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On Wednesday, Google nuked two ad-blocking Chrome extensions that appear to have been designed to conduct affiliate-marketing fraud.
The extensions, AdBlock and uBlock, were singled-out on Monday by AdGuard, a maker of ad blocking software that was founded in Russia and is based in Cyprus.
Andrey - Meshkov - Co-founder - CTO - AdGuard
Andrey Meshkov, co-founder and CTO of AdGuard, said the two extensions used names that are confusingly similar to two better established ad blockers, Adblock Plus and uBlock Origin, and that this alone should deter people from using them.
Google responded to an email from The Register to confirm that it had removed the dodgy add-ons from its online Chrome extension store, though the web giant's spokesperson ignored questions about why it removed them and why it allows extensions with confusingly similar names to coexist in its browser software bazaar.
Names - Problem - Google - Chrome - Web
Deceptive names have been a problem in Google's Chrome Web Store for years, as they have been in other app stores, to say nothing of look-alike domain names. AdGuard last year pointed out that five fake ad blockers had over 20m active users. They were removed, eventually.
Reports of uBlock Origin imitators surfaced in 2016 though the problem is older still. Even today, after the removal of the uBlock offered by "Charlie Lee," extensions with confusingly similar names can still be found. A search for "uBlock" returns three results, only one of which is developer Raymond Hill's well-regarded uBlock Origin content-filtering extension.
Results - UBlock
Among the other two results – another "uBlock" and...
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