After months of Google talking up security problems with browser extensions, here is a bit of news which comes as no surprise.
Google announced today that users of the Windows version of its Chrome web browser can now only install extensions found in the Chrome Web Store. All other sources have been blocked as a security measure, and the ad network also announced it plans to impose a similar restriction on OSX users in July of this year.
Google had previously blocked extensions for users running the consumer distribution of Chrome, but they had also allowed those users who had opted in to the Developer release channel to continue installing extensions from outside the Chrome Web Store. And today Google closed that loophole.
The tech giant explained that changing the rules last year reduced the number of support requests related to uninstalling unwanted extensions by 75%. That’s great news, but as we’ve seen over the past few months malicious and unsavory developers are still snaring the unwary.
They’ve adapted and started tricking users into switching to the developer channel so that the unwanted off-store extensions could be installed, and today Google responded by cutting them off. Now, all extension developers will have to play by Google’s rules, and all extensions will have to be approved for use in its store in order to be green-lit for broader use.
While this could be made to look like Google grabbing the last bit of control over Chrome, I don’t think most users will be impacted.
To be honest, I never even noticed that the rule changed last year. I have the ad blocker and all the other plugins and extensions I want, and unless Google starts banning extensions I don’t think this will ever be a concern.