There’s been a recent trend on Facebook, and if you don’t like missing out you might have just been the victim of a clever browser hijacking tactic. Here’s how you can avoid the problem if you haven’t been caught in the crossfire and if you have here’s how to cleanse yourself of this cancer.
How It Happens…
You get a message from your “infected” friend telling you to open their video. Once you click the link it redirects you to a YouTube-like site. A closer look at the URL shows that this site is not really YouTube but in actuality is something called yabio.filmnag.
The video you had been led to believe is your friends refuses to play and you get an error which prompts you to download an extension. The error says, “You must install the codec extension to watch the video!” and it instantly prompts you to download an extension.
Firstly, YouTube does not need any extensions for you to play any videos on the site. Secondly, downloading these kinds of links is how people end up getting phished. So if you have installed this extension you may want to uninstall it as early as possible.
The kind of risks that are posed by installing this kind of an extension can have deeply profound and debilitating effects on users. Once the extension has been installed, in essence, you have given the extension permission to access a lot of stuff in your chrome browser. It can track your activity on the internet and thus gain access to vital information such as credit card data or account data.
This access also allows the extension to then send messages to your Facebook friends and the chain goes on and on and on…and on. Some extensions can also change your search engine and remove your bookmarks. Basically, once your browser has been hijacked the experience is so terrible you might end up having to remove the browser entirely…
If you are already having trouble…
This one is a bit complicated. Once browser hijacking extensions have installed themselves removing them is not as easy as removing other extensions. The extensions usually try their best to make themselves irremovable. This means a simple uninstall from the extensions options menu or chrome’s extension manager may be futile. For this particular extension, we didn’t have much trouble removing it and though we got an error message the extension was no more.
In another case a while ago when my browser was hijacked by a different, more stubborn extension I ended up uninstalling Chrome and reinstalling it a few weeks later since I was not a fan of Firefox or the Opera browser. Anyway, stay safe and never install any extension unless you are sure that the extension is actually safe.