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I'd like to install a Google Chrome extension (in particular, StayFocused) and it warns me that it will have access to my data on all websites.

I find this quite scary as I'd like to keep some secure data visible to only those websites it belongs to.

Is it safe to install such an extension? What are the potential risks? I don't know if I'm missing the point of why they need access to such data.

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I wish there was a way to test extensions security. I want to install Download Master ( chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/… ) but I am too worried about security. –  user15765 Dec 22 '11 at 15:59

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The whole point about the warning is to give you an informed choice about whether you should install the extension. Presumably some (most?) people don't realise that browser extensions might do more than what the maker tells you they will do.

In theory a malicious extension could, for want of a better word, snoop on your banking/credit card payment/Facebook password... and somehow pass it to an evil hacker. No different really to installing any software on your computer.

How one decides to trust a particular application is pretty complicated. You trusted Google enough to install their browser, why was that?

Was it...

  • Privacy policy
  • Reputation
  • Terms of Use
  • Your knowledge of the laws & regulations of your/their country
  • Reviews & Ratings
  • Some other reason(s)

Should you trust this particular extension and go ahead and install it?
My humble suggestion would be to apply the same reasoning that you used when you installed Chrome or any other application, the fact that it is an extension for Chrome is irrelevant.

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Well, it was reputation first - I don't believe Google can use my credit card number, though they definitely have the ability to steal it :) I like your arguments and I agree with it basically, so your answer it accepted. Thanks! –  Yan Sklyarenko Oct 18 '10 at 8:28

I found this thread which explains it quite thoroughly:

http://productforums.google.com/d/topic/chrome/Bn9dWCmVtUs/discussion

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Thanks @lobner for the ref though the discussion was not conclusive. I'm looking at OneTab and it has over 500,000 users so that would seem like it is trusted. However the permissions warning is that it can "Read and change all your data on the websites you visit". The google page on this support.google.com/chrome_webstore/answer/186213?hl=en says things that sound scary. Perhaps the dev changed perms after the 500,000 users added it. –  HankCa Apr 14 at 9:45
    
As a follow up to my comment, I went with my instincts and looked a bit further. I found what I believe is a much better Tab management extension that only has "Your Bookmarks" permissions. BTW its TabsOutliner - chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/tabs-outliner/…. –  HankCa Apr 14 at 12:11
    
@HankCa If more permissions are added after an extension is installed, that extension is automatically disabled, and users are asked whether they want to grant more permissions. –  Normal Human Apr 27 at 3:23
    
Ahh cool thanks @2mkgz that's nice to know. –  HankCa Apr 28 at 11:25

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