Google wants to rid ad-injecting extensions from its Chrome browser after finding that nearly 200 exposed millions of users to deceptive practices or malicious software.
More than 5% of Google site visitors have at least one ad injector installed. Of those, half have at least two injectors installed, and nearly one-third have at least four installed, per a study Google conducted with researchers at University of California Berkeley.
The findings are drawn from more than 100 million page views of Google sites worldwide across Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer on various operating systems, and found ad injectors on all operating systems, from Mac to Windows, and Web browsers Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer.
Ad injectors are programs that insert new ads, or replace existing ones, into the pages site visitors read. The Mountain View, Calif. company received more than 100,000 complaints from Chrome users about ad injection since January 2015. The number adds up to more than network errors, performance problems, or any other issue.
Researchers also classified 34% of Chrome extensions injecting ads as malware. The research found 192 deceptive Chrome extensions that affected 14 million users, which were since disabled. Google now incorporates the techniques researchers used to catch these extensions to scan all new and updated extensions. The company will release additional research on May 1, examining the ad injector ecosystem in depth to increase awareness about and scale of the issue.