Google Removes Several Malicious Chrome Extensions

Google Chrome extensions. They’re a cool feature chrome provides, where you can add almost anything to enhance your experience while browsing the internet. For example, one of the most common extensions people use is AdBlocker. Although, if you thought these extensions were harmless, you were wrong. For the past two years, hundreds of Chrome extensions were participating in extension fraud. After months of research, Google pulled over 500 extensions that utilized such malicious behavior. The developers had designed their extensions in a way that when the user opened up the internet/opened a new page after successfully installing the extension, the user would be waiting for the page to load, the unknowingly would be routed through thirty other websites. These websites would be advertisements, where each time someone clicked on the website, the developer of the extension would receive a profit. All of this occurred within the few seconds you were waiting for a website to open – and you had no idea. Thousands clicks would go to ad marketing just by you opening up a new page after downloading an extension. On the other hand, the companies who were getting views were also unaware that a huge percentage of views on their websites weren’t actually people viewing it – companies could only see their view count. By downloading these extensions, you allowed information about your device to be accessed. The websites a user unknowingly was sent to could infect your computer, as it could check if different security aspects of your device were patched and up-to-date and furthermore could install malware. Despite all the legal factors with fraud and theft, one of the most alarming components of this cyber security scandal is that the user had no idea this was occurring and was hidden within in extra two minutes of loading time.

sources:

Google pulls 500 malicious Chrome extensions after researcher tip-off

Google Removes Hundreds Of Malicious Chrome Extensions

https://www.wired.com/story/over-500-chrome-extensions-secretly-uploaded-private-data/

500 Malicious Chrome Extensions Impact Millions of Users

Google Maps Integrating Public Events for Users

https://www.theverge.com/2019/3/25/18280820/google-maps-public-events-contribute-social

In this article on The Verge, it explained that Google Maps, a widely-known and used navigation platform, will be entering the events industry. Not confirmed yet, but with a support-page for it, Google Maps will be adding a section to their app to let users find live events near them to participate in. With Facebook running the show for events, Google Maps will surely be neck and neck with FB to get users to these live events in their nearby cities.

To me, this news is exciting and innovative. Whenever I am in Manhattan, I am always trying to find a place to go to next: the best restaurant or coffee shop. However, I always find myself wanting more, wanting to go somewhere and experience something, not just sit down and have a bite to eat, but immerse myself in some event that I know is happening around me, I just didn’t get an invite to. But, with Google Maps’ new platform, it will be easy for people like me, who want to seek out those events in large cities, to find one. Although they are still in the first few stages of figuring out how to actually provide the public with event information, I think with a little time and more research on their target market, this new feature of Google Maps will be a hit. I know that I would certainly use this feature on the Google Maps app because it brings more excitement to the app rather than just looking up directions to get to your destination, or the nearest gas station or coffee shop. This will be an innovative way to get Google Maps users to engage in their communities by seeing all of the local events nearby.

What do you think about this new feature to Google Maps’ app?

Google Releases Innovative Voice Recognition Technology

During today’s Google keynote event, the company outlined the future of its expanding hardware line.  In general, they plan on blending elements of hardware, software, and artificial intelligence together to create new, innovative products that push the boundaries of consumer technology.  Over the course of the presentation, Google unveiled a wide variety of new gadgets, including the Pixel 2 smartphone, the Pixelbook laptop, and the smaller $50 Google Home Mini smart speaker.

Google Home Mini

The new Google Home Mini smart speaker / voice assistant

While cutting-edge hardware is great on its own, one of the more interesting features is the artificial intelligence-powered Google Assistant, which is available on all Google devices.  While this software isn’t new by any means, some of the new features the tech giant is incorporating are especially interesting.  One of which that is a real eyebrow-raiser is Voice Match.  According to a recent Ars Technica article on the feature, “Google Assistant will build a virtual model of your voice using Voice Match, so when you ask it a personal question involving your calendar, it will retrieve information from your calendar” (Amadeo).  While it is certainly exciting that our natural language processing technology has reached this point at the consumer level, this functionality also raises some privacy concerns.  For instance, many people have already shied away from other voice assistants like the Amazon Echo out of fear of the product eavesdropping on them in their own home.  Now with Google’s new technology, these products will not only listen to your conversations, but also recognize who is speaking through its sophisticated algorithms.

How do you feel about this new technology?  Would you be comfortable owning a Google Home?  Leave a comment below.

 

Amadeo – Oct 4, 2017 4:25 pm UTC, Ron. “The Google Home Mini Is Google’s $49 Answer to the Echo Dot.” Ars Technica, Ars Technica, 4 Oct. 2017, arstechnica.com/gadgets/2017/10/the-google-home-mini-is-googles-answer-to-amazons-echo-dot/.

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