Menu
Superfish injects ads in one in 25 Google page views

Superfish injects ads in one in 25 Google page views

Google found 50,870 Chrome extensions and 34,407 programs that injected ads into its websites

Over five percent of browser visits to Google owned websites, including Google Search, are altered by computer programs that inject ads into pages. One called Superfish is responsible for a majority of those ad injections.

The findings are the result of a study by Google and researchers from the University of California at Berkeley and Santa Barbara, who analyzed over 102 million page views to Google sites between June and September last year.

Google added code to its websites that detected and reported back when ads were injected into pages by programs or browser extensions. This revealed that locally installed ad injectors interfered with 5,339,913 page views (5.2 percent of the total), impacting tens of millions of users around the world -- or 5.5 percent of unique daily Internet Protocol addresses that accessed Google's sites.

Further analysis of the data helped researchers to identify 50,870 Chrome extensions and 34,407 programs that injected ads. Thirty-eight percent of extensions and 17 percent of programs were catalogued as malware, the rest being potentially unwanted adware-type applications.

Most ad injectors bundle one or more libraries that display ads or perform other tasks. Of those libraries, one called Superfish and one called Jollywallet were the most frequently encountered ones. Superfish injects alternative shopping suggestions in the form of ads based on image similarity searches, while Jollywallet overwrites affiliate parameters in URLs on shopping sites to earn referral commissions without actually driving traffic to the sold product.

Superfish got some attention back in February because it opened a serious security hole on computers, including on some Lenovo consumer laptops that came pre-loaded with it. Lenovo released a clean-up tool and also worked with Microsoft and other security vendors to remove the program from computers.

The researchers behind Google's study found that 49,127 (96%) browser extensions and 33,486 (97%) software programs of the identified ad injectors contacted superfish.com. However, 50 percent of extensions used at least two ad injection libraries and 80 percent of programs used at least four.

Google removed 192 deceptive ad injecting extensions from the Chrome Web Store. However, only 10 percent of such extensions have ever been present in the store, according to the researchers. Most of them have been installed by other programs directly in users' browsers.

To prevent such side-loading, since May last year the Chrome browser blocks the installation of extensions that are not hosted in the Chrome Web Store. Google also provides a removal tool for potentially unwanted programs, including ad injectors, that modify the browser.


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securitymalwareGooglescams

Featured

Slideshows

Meet the leading female front runners of the Kiwi channel

Meet the leading female front runners of the Kiwi channel

Reseller News honoured the leading female front runners of the New Zealand channel at the 2018 Women in ICT Awards (WIICTA) in Auckland. The awards honoured standout individuals across seven categories, spanning Entrepreneur; Innovation; Rising Star; Shining Star; Community; Technical and Achievement.

Meet the leading female front runners of the Kiwi channel
Meet the top performing customer-centric Microsoft channel partners

Meet the top performing customer-centric Microsoft channel partners

Microsoft honoured leading partners across the channel following a year of customer innovation and market growth in New Zealand. The 2018 Microsoft Partner Awards recognised excellence within the context of the end-user, spanning a host of emerging and established providers.

Meet the top performing customer-centric Microsoft channel partners
Reseller News launches new-look Awards at 2018 Judges’ Lunch

Reseller News launches new-look Awards at 2018 Judges’ Lunch

Introducing the Reseller News Innovation Awards, launched to the channel at the 2018 Judges’ Lunch in Auckland. With more than 70 judges now part of the voting panel, the new-look awards will reflect the changing dynamics of the channel, recognising excellence across customer value and innovation - spanning start-ups, partners, distributors and vendors.

Reseller News launches new-look Awards at 2018 Judges’ Lunch
Show Comments