Do not install suspicious privacy browser extensions promoted by scam sites
Written by Tomas Meskauskas on
What is the "Install the extension for Chrome to protect your privacy" scam?
Our researchers encountered the "Install the extension for Chrome to protect your privacy" scam while inspecting browser notifications delivered by various questionable sites. Specifically, an ad delivered by important-incoming-news[.]com that promoted a website running the scam in question.
Typically, schemes of this kind are used to promote a wide variety of untrustworthy software like fake anti-viruses, adware, browser hijackers, and PUAs (Potentially Unwanted Applications). This scam endorsed the Clipboard Sync Beta adware at the time of research.
"Install the extension for Chrome to protect your privacy" scam overview
When we accessed the webpage promoting this scam, it displayed a pop-up window. This fake alert appears intimidating; like many of its ilk - it is designed to cause alarm and push users into hasty action. The pop-up encourages installing an extension onto the Chrome browser for increased privacy protection.
The alert also mentions that the software's publisher is verified - to create the impression of legitimacy. During our research, the "Download" button opened the Chrome Web Store - this as well only strengthens the sense of reputability.
However, it is noteworthy that even on genuine download sources - it is possible to encounter questionable/harmful software. Most legitimate download channels use methods to prevent abuse of their services by scammers/ cyber criminals; however, dubious content can still slip through.
Our researchers were presented with the Clipboard Sync Beta adware, which did not promise any privacy-related features. Instead, this rogue browser extension advertises a nonoperational functionality of syncing clipboards between desktop devices. While we noted this piece of software being endorsed through the "Install the extension for Chrome to protect your privacy" scam, users may obtain other suspicious content through it.
|Name||Install the extension for Chrome to protect your privacy pop-up|
|Threat Type||Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud|
|Fake Claim||Scam urges users to install a browser extension that will supposedly increase privacy protection.|
|Distributed Unwanted Apps||Clipboard Sync Beta|
|Detection Names (lawshb[.]com)||N/A (VirusTotal)|
|Symptoms||Fake error messages, fake system warnings, pop-up errors, hoax computer scan.|
|Distribution methods||Compromised websites, rogue online pop-up ads, potentially unwanted applications.|
|Damage||Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft, possible malware infections.|
|Malware Removal (Windows)||
To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
Online scams in general
The Internet is full of various scams, ranging from illegitimate error alerts to hoax lotteries. "McAfee: SECURITY ALERT", "Update your Chrome browser extension", "TO CONTINUE - ADD EXTENSION TO CHROME", and "PROTECT YOUR PC!" are some examples of schemes akin to "Install the extension for Chrome to protect your privacy", which we have researched.
Due to how widespread misleading, deceptive, and malicious content is online, we strongly advise exercising caution when browsing.
How did untrustworthy software install on my computer?
Scams like "Install the extension for Chrome to protect your privacy" are often used to endorse dubious software (e.g., Clipboard Sync Beta).
What is worth mentioning is that some questionable software products can promote scam sites (e.g., by force-opening or pushing them via intrusive ads).
Suspect programs can also be obtained from unofficial and freeware download websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, and other third-party downloaders. Software bundling - packing regular programs with unwanted/malicious additions - is another marketing technique used by cyber criminals. Furthermore, some intrusive advertisements can execute scripts to make stealthy downloads/installations - when clicked.
How to avoid installation of untrustworthy software?
The key to computer safety is caution. Our researchers recommend researching software and downloading it from official/verified sources. When downloading/installing, we advise reading terms, studying available options, using the "Custom/Advanced" settings, and opting-out of all additions.
It is just as important to approach browsing with care. Questionable sites and spam browser notifications/ intrusive ads may appear legitimate; however, they cause redirects to unreliable/dubious websites (e.g., gambling, adult-dating, pornography, etc.).
If you encounter such ads/redirects, check your system and immediately remove all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins detected. If your computer is already infected with PUAs, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate them.
Text presented in "Install the extension for Chrome to protect your privacy" scam pop-up:
Install the extension for Chrome to protect your privacy
Download widget to protect your PC
Verifed publisher: Browser Securite
Download More info
Screenshots of deceptive browser notifications (delivered by important-incoming-news[.]com) promoting the "Install the extension for Chrome to protect your privacy" scam:
The appearance of "Install the extension for Chrome to protect your privacy" pop-up scam (GIF):
Instant automatic malware removal:
Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Combo Cleaner is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
- What is Install the extension for Chrome to protect your privacy pop-up?
- How to identify a pop-up scam?
- How do pop-up scams work?
- How to remove fake pop-ups?
- How to prevent fake pop-ups?
- What to do if you fell for a pop-up scam?
How to identify a pop-up scam?
Pop-up windows with various fake messages are a common type of lures cybercriminals use. They collect sensitive personal data, trick Internet users into calling fake tech support numbers, subscribe to useless online services, invest in shady cryptocurrency schemes, etc.
While in the majority of cases these pop-ups don't infect users' devices with malware, they can cause direct monetary loss or could result in identity theft.
Cybercriminals strive to create their rogue pop-up windows to look trustworthy, however, scams typically have the following characteristics:
- Spelling mistakes and non-professional images - Closely inspect the information displayed in a pop-up. Spelling mistakes and unprofessional images could be a sign of a scam.
- Sense of urgency - Countdown timer with a couple of minutes on it, asking you to enter your personal information or subscribe to some online service.
- Statements that you won something - If you haven't participated in a lottery, online competition, etc., and you see a pop-up window stating that you won.
- Computer or mobile device scan - A pop-up window that scans your device and informs of detected issues - is undoubtedly a scam; webpages cannot perform such actions.
- Exclusivity - Pop-up windows stating that only you are given secret access to a financial scheme that can quickly make you rich.
Example of a pop-up scam:
How do pop-up scams work?
Cybercriminals and deceptive marketers usually use various advertising networks, search engine poisoning techniques, and shady websites to generate traffic to their pop-ups. Users land on their online lures after clicking on fake download buttons, using a torrent website, or simply clicking on an Internet search engine result.
Based on users' location and device information, they are presented with a scam pop-up. Lures presented in such pop-ups range from get-rich-quick schemes to fake virus scans.
How to remove fake pop-ups?
In most cases, pop-up scams do not infect users' devices with malware. If you encountered a scam pop-up, simply closing it should be enough. In some cases scam, pop-ups may be hard to close; in such cases - close your Internet browser and restart it.
In extremely rare cases, you might need to reset your Internet browser. For this, use our instructions explaining how to reset Internet browser settings.
How to prevent fake pop-ups?
To prevent seeing pop-up scams, you should visit only reputable websites. Torrent, Crack, free online movie streaming, YouTube video download, and other websites of similar reputation commonly redirect Internet users to pop-up scams.
To minimize the risk of encountering pop-up scams, you should keep your Internet browsers up-to-date and use reputable anti-malware application. For this purpose, we recommend Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.
What to do if you fell for a pop-up scam?
This depends on the type of scam that you fell for. Most commonly, pop-up scams try to trick users into sending money, giving away personal information, or giving access to one's device.
- If you sent money to scammers: You should contact your financial institution and explain that you were scammed. If informed promptly, there's a chance to get your money back.
- If you gave away your personal information: You should change your passwords and enable two-factor authentication in all online services that you use. Visit Federal Trade Commission to report identity theft and get personalized recovery steps.
- If you let scammers connect to your device: You should scan your computer with reputable anti-malware (we recommend Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows) - cyber criminals could have planted trojans, keyloggers, and other malware, don't use your computer until removing possible threats.
- Help other Internet users: report Internet scams to Federal Trade Commission.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is a pop-up scam?
Basically, pop-up scams are deceptive messages designed to trick users into performing specific actions. For example, these schemes can push users into downloading files, installing software, revealing private data, making bogus monetary transactions, and so on.
What is the purpose of a pop-up scam?
The end-goal of all pop-up scams is to generate revenue for their designers. The "Install the extension for Chrome to protect your privacy" scam promotes untrustworthy software, and the scammers may receive commission from doing so. Other sources of cyber criminal revenue include - receiving funds through deception, abusing or selling private information, proliferating malware, etc.
Why do I encounter fake pop-ups?
Pop-up scams are displayed by rogue websites, which are seldom accessed intentionally. Most visitors enter them via mistyped URLs, redirects caused by other pages using rogue advertising networks, intrusive ads, spam browser notifications, or installed harmful software. For example, our researchers observed a browser notification delivered by the important-incoming-news[.]com untrustworthy webpage - promoting the "Install the extension for Chrome to protect your privacy" scam.
Will Combo Cleaner protect me from pop-up scams?
Combo Cleaner is capable of scanning visited websites and detecting rogue, deceptive, and malicious ones (including scam-promoting pages). Therefore, if you encounter such a site - you will be warned immediately, and access to it will be restricted.
▼ Show Discussion