Google to Publish Research on Browser Ad Injectors

Google is preparing to release new research on the prevalence of ad injectors, the often-unwanted browser extensions that inject ads onto Web pages, and the numbers will show just how widespread and problematic the software is.

Ad injectors belong to that great, amorphous pile of applications that aren’t necessarily classed as malware but exhibit behavior that is unwanted by users. They’re designed to push ads onto the pages that users visit and they typically come in the form of browser extensions. Users sometimes install them purposely, but often ad injectors come bundled with other applications and can be difficult to remove.

Google has been adjusting the way that it handles deceptive and unwanted software and its Chrome browser will display a warning when a user is going to download an ad injector from the Chrome Web store. The company doesn’t ban all ad injectors across the board, but will remove deceptive apps from the Web store. Google said that it has received more than 100,000 complaints from Chrome users about ad injectors in just the past three months.

In a few weeks, Google plans to release some joint research on ad injectors it did with the University of California at Berkeley. Some of the findings that came out of the research make it clear that ad injectors represent a fairly large-scale problem for users:

  • Ad injectors were detected on all operating systems (Mac and Windows), and web browsers (Chrome, Firefox, IE) that were included in our test.
  • More than 5% of people visiting Google sites have at least one ad injector installed. Within that group, half have at least two injectors installed and nearly one-third have at least four installed.
  • Thirty-four percent of Chrome extensions injecting ads were classified as outright malware.

Google’s Nav Jagpal said in a blog post that the research found nearly 200 deceptive extensions in the Chrome Web store, which have been disabled. Jagpal said Google plans to release the full results of the research on May 1.


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