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Google Limits Chrome Browser Extensions Amid Spike In Fraud

Google, Chrome, Extensions, suspension, chrome store, fraudulent, updates, news

Google has announced that all paid commercial extensions have been temporarily suspended from being published or updated in the official Chrome Web Store due to fraud, ZDNet reported on Saturday (Jan. 25).

Fraudulent transactions began earlier in January, then started happening “at scale,” according to Google engineers. As a result, Google’s security team indefinitely suspended the extensions, which impacts all paid extensions. Existing commercial extensions can be downloaded, but not updated.

"This is a temporary measure meant to stem this influx as we look for long-term solutions to address the broader pattern of [fraud] abuse," said Simeon Vincent, developer advocate for Chrome Extensions at Google, in an online forum. "We are working to resolve this as quickly as possible, but we do not have a resolution timeline at the moment. Apologies for the inconvenience."

Any developers trying to make updates are currently getting an automated spam message. Some better-known extensions affected are Dashlane, the password manager, and Comeet, the meeting planner.

“To publish an item that has been rejected, reply to the rejection email and request an appeal. You may be asked to republish your item, at which point the review should proceed normally. You must repeat this process for each new version while this measure is in place,” Vincent said in the forum.

Jeff Johnson, the creator of Chrome extension StopTheMadness, told ZDNet that Google has been quietly banning updates for several days.

Earlier this month, Google joined Microsoft, Mozilla and Apple in banning so-called third-party cookies. Google said in a blog post that it desired to create alternative tools to “sustain an ad-supported web” in such a fashion that would “render third-party cookies obsolete” within the time frame of two years. Google’s initiative, Privacy Sandbox, launched in August, and was tasked with developing a set of open standards “to fundamentally enhance privacy on the web,” Google said

Chrome launched a little more than 10 years ago, and now dominates the market for desktop browsing. 

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