Extensions are small software programs that customize the browsing experience, add new features to the browser, or modify the functionality of websites. Chrome Extensions Management is the processes and tools used to manage the extensions installed on the Google Chrome web browser and secure from risky extensions. Managing these extensions effectively is important for several reasons:

  • Security and Privacy – Some extensions can access browsing data or other sensitive information that resides on the browser, like passwords, cookies and MFA tokens. When malicious actors develop and operate extensions, they can exploit their broad permissions to perform malicious activities, like account takeover attacks. Proper management helps ensure that only trustworthy extensions with necessary permissions are installed on browsers. This helps mitigate the risk of malicious software entering the corporate network while also protecting users’ privacy.
  • Compliance – Various regulations have requirements in place that determine or limit the use of Chrome extensions. Their intentions are to protect the privacy and security of users and customers. Managing extensions helps maintain compliance by ensuring only approved extensions are used by employees, and only in the ways that are approved and meet regulatory requirements.
  • Performance – Extensions, especially when numerous or poorly designed, can slow down browser speed. By managing extensions, users can identify and disable or remove those that negatively impact performance.
  • Organization – Keeping an inventory of installed extensions helps in maintaining a clean browser environment, making it easier to find and use the extensions needed.

What is the Risk of Chrome Extensions?

While most extensions are safe to use, adversaries exploit the trust users place in these software modules to inject malware or harvest data from users. There are three types of risky extensions:

  • An initially malicious extension – an extension that was developed by a malicious actor.
  • A compromised extension – a legit extension that was taken over by a malicious actor.
  • An extension with risky permissions that can be exploited – a legit extension that could potentially be compromised by a malicious actor.

The extensions’ permissions determine which actions the extensions can perform in the browser. In many cases, extensions need broad permissions to operate. Examples of very broad permissions include modifying cookies, modifying network requests, web traffic manipulation, exfiltrating data, routing traffic, and more.

These permissions can be exploited for malicious activities, like accessing sensitive data, injecting malware, and more. Since users tend to allow extensions to perform a wide set of actions on their browsers., extensions can easily become a vehicle to malicious operations,As demonstrated above, the extension doesn’t have to currently be compromised to pose a risk.

How Does Chrome Extensions Management Work?

Chrome extensions management is about discovering risky extensions and protecting against malicious activities they conduct. A Chrome extensions management solution will:

  • Continuously scan organizational devices to identify newly installed extensions, alerting about risky ones.
  • Analyze browser extensions, including its attributes such as the name, install type, last updated at, browser store, extension risk and more.
  • Disable the risky extension’s ability to extract sensitive data or the extension in its entirety.

Why Enterprises Need Chrome Extensions Management

Malicious extensions can pose significant security risks. These include data breaches, privacy violations, and unauthorized access to enterprise assets. Many enterprises mistakenly think that their network and security stack will protect against this threat. However, the extensions’ placement in the browser allows them to evade these legacy tools. 

A Chrome extensions management solution like an Enterprise Browser Extension allows enterprises to evaluate and approve extensions, ensuring they meet their security standards and comply with regulatory requirements. This proactive approach mitigates the risk of introducing malware into the organization and strengthens organization’s security posture.

How to Choose a Chrome Extensions Management Solution

A Chrome extensions management solution needs to be able to protect the organization against malicious and risk browser extensions.

Here’s a checklist for choosing the right solution:

  • Continuous scanning of devices for newly installed extensions
  • Granular analysis of extensions: ID, name, permissions, install type, last updated at, browser store, extension risk and more. Go beyond the extension ID
  • Automated discovery and alerts of risky extensions
  • Ability to neutralize malicious extensions, partially or completely

LayerX Chrome Extensions Management

LayerX is an Enterprise Browser Extension designed to protect against web-borne threats. LayerX provides extensive defenses against malicious browser extensions, protecting passwords, cookies, identities, and other browser-stored data from compromise. This is done by actively monitoring the browser landscape and identifying and evaluating any installed extensions. Each detected extension is analyzed and given a risk assessment score.

If LayerX finds an extension that poses a threat, it deactivates it and provides the option for users to blacklist it, preventing its reinstallation in the future. This security measure is implemented with minimal interference to the user’s web navigation experience, ensuring that your team can continue working without interruption.

Try LayerX now.