Backdoor Add-ons. A new way to harbor the data

Textbook, 2014
10 Pages, Grade: 1


Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Deep Understanding the malicious Add-ons

3. Case Study with Chrome Extensions

4. Secure over malicious Add-ons

5. Concluding Remarks

6. References


Mr. Hemant Kumar Saini is a Red hat Certified Engineer. He is pursuing M. Tech in Computer Science & Engineering from Rajasthan Technical University, Kota. He has completed his B. Tech in Information Technology from MLV Government Textile & Engineering College. He is having 2 years of industrial experience and one year of academic experience. His research interests are Computer Network and Cyber Security.

1. Introduction

Today in the growing era of communication everyone wants to update with the new functionality so that they would survive with the best. Since the only way to access Internet is the browser, so it is vital to configure them securely. With the growing demands to ease the work in one click many engine tools, supportive plug-ins have been developed for web-browser. And the users also without knowing its causes quickly installed such extensible plug-ins in their browsers which gives the chances to intruders to get control their computer without their knowledge. Such plug-ins becomes victim for the vulnerabilities of the computer which are due to the manufacturer coding fault.

2. Deep Understanding the malicious Add-ons

With the programming perspective, Browser extensions are the small set of instructions which performs the specific task for enhancing the functionality of the web browsers. But as we stick to specific computing then these extensions are the small application that has to be installed on the browser which changes the skin, adding the special features like flash player, java virtual machine and some customizations for the password or Email enhancements and so named as Add-ons. Since all such add-ons are the legitimate and helpful in tailoring the professional utilities but somehow in the market many malfunctioners develop the add-ons which extract the information from the surfing and compromise the security and privacy of the user. Such applications are the root cause of malicious add-ons.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Fig. 1 LastPass Extension for getting all passwords


Most of the browsers allow the third party installation mechanism which acts a host for performing the malicious activity by the hackers. Different extensions are being developed for different purposes but these installations would not only add the features but also sometimes become a way to intrude into the system due to non-secure coding or non-secure configuration. As such, the Firefox default configuration to store the last work pertaining the way to give idea what the last has been accessed on the computer. With such an enhanced facility intruder find their way to get control over the autoform fillings which is stored in the browser and try their practices.

As Balazs depicted in Fig.1 about the detailed structure for the insertion of a malware into legitimate extension for Firefox. Since the browser extensions are the Application Programming Interface (API) and the LastPass is one of the Firefox extensions which support the authentication using the master password mechanism. It allows the users with strong, individual passwords for every online service by having only one master password to unlock the other information. Unfortunately, if the attacker alters the LastPass’s code and somehow reveals the master password then it gets all the saved content. And this all can be practiced in less than two hours work. That’s why the new browsers do not allow the third party installations, so that, if the extensions malice and the browser vendor come to know about the vulnerability into its extensions it can be improved further to overcome such threats.

3. Case Study with Chrome Extensions

Various chrome extensions have been developed for exploiting the security risks. We study some of the useful cases with their practical implementation.

Case Study1: Bang! For Email Spam

Today the most notorious cause for email spam is the botnet. As the spammer sends the spamming commands to bots, they send spam’s to victims through HTTP (hyper text transfer protocol) request. This spam information has been stored in the file named spam.txt under the extension directory as shown in Fig.2 (a) which includes the victim’s mail id. Hence it uses the same legitimate email account to send spam as when the user logins which can be seen in Fig. 2(b). Here, Bang! is chosen as a bot extension to monitor login users and the iPlanet mail system is used for experiment. Since this extension has the privilege of “tabs” which listens to notification of tabs with the method of chrome.tabs.onUpdated.addListener().With this credential information, an HTTP request to the iPlanet mail server is authorized to take any action on behalf of the user, instead of sending the username and password in each transaction. As shown in Fig.2(c) the extension sends out the HTTP requests, which in turn triggers the web serverto send spam emails to the victim. And as the victim email address can be embedded in the extension (as in spam.txt), the bot can always obtain new victim emails by updating the extension from the botnet master’s server, which is allowed by default in the Chrome ecosystem.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Fig. 2 Chrome Extension for Email Spam

Case Study2: Bang for Password Sniffing

Nowadays, online shopping is becoming very popular due to which sensitive information such as bank account and password is often saved by the web browser, temporarily or permanently, which makes web browsers a major target of spyware. When the victim web page is loaded, Bang! injects content script into the web page, which can access all DOM (Document Object Model) elements including the form with the user name and password. Such information can then be sent to the designated email address. In order to access sensitive information in the Chrome browser, our extension needs to access the DOM tree of a web page. Therefore it needs the cross-site permission to insert the content script when a web page is rendered. When the user browses the page from, two content scripts (jquery.js and myscript.js) are injected into the target web page, and the JavaScripts have full privileges to access all DOM elements including the form with username and password. With the received command shown in Fig. 3(a), myscript.js reads the values of user name and password elements when the user inputs, as shown in Fig. 3(b), and sends to a designated email address. Fig. 3(c) shows that the password information is successfully.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Fig. 3 Chrome Extension for Password Sniffing

4. Secure over malicious Add-ons

Since the new add-ons are developing much fast in the Web market, we can’t test each and every extension over the security trends and list out which one is safe for our browsers. Hence to overcome on security issues we can take some countermeasures which help us to overcome such threats.

1. Block third-party cookies: Cookies are an important component of Internet usability so instead of turning them off altogether, third-party cookies would be blocked.


Excerpt out of 10 pages


Backdoor Add-ons. A new way to harbor the data
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ISBN (Book)
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Hemant Kumar Saini (Author), 2014, Backdoor Add-ons. A new way to harbor the data, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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