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Google Removes the Option of Installing Chrome Extensions via Remote Sites

13 June 2018

"If you distribute an extension using inline installation, you will need to update install buttons on your website to link to your extension's Chrome Web Store page prior to the stable release of Chrome 71", said James Wagner, Extensions Platform Product Manager at Google.

Google Chrome has the privilege of shipping on millions of Android devices around the world, giving it a massive head start in claiming market share.

Today: inline installation will be unavailable to all newly published extensions.

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"In the Chromium blog, James Wagner, the Extensions Platform Product Manager explains, "...we continue to receive large volumes of complaints from users about unwanted extensions causing their Chrome experience to change unexpectedly - and the majority of these complaints are attributed to confusing or deceptive uses of inline installation on websites. One thing is certain: while the retiring of inline Chrome extension installations will have a positive impact, it won't suddenly free the Chrome Web Store from user tracking or outright malicious extensions.

Google notes in its announcement that inline installed extensions have a higher user complaint ratio and are uninstalled significantly more often than extensions installed from the Web Store. That is, extensions that are installed from websites other than the Chrome Web Store and are, therefore, not vetted by reviews, descriptions, and the like.

The Chrome Web Store contains information about extensions that help people make decisions about installation, he suggests. The search giant has informed that by the end of 2018, users will only be able to install new Chrome extension only from their respective Chrome Web Store listings. While the system has been used by legitimate companies and developers to provide extension installations directly from websites they operate, it has been abused by crooks as well.

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On September 12, 2018, any code invoking chrome.webstore.install () will be rerouted to the Chrome Web Store installation process. Finally, in December of this year, the latest version of Chrome (version 71) will not allow inline installs at all. But, the mechanism has been abused by attackers to trick users into downloading malicious extensions. Google has not published information about the ratio of installs.

To combat the issue in the past year, Google has introduced new polices, like banning cryptocurrency mining, and applying machine learning to counter deceptive extension installations.

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Google Removes the Option of Installing Chrome Extensions via Remote Sites