Google-Chrome-Store-Extensions

Google continues to clamp down on security on its Chrome browser, specifically when it comes to web extensions. While that is a noble pursuit, the company’s actions are drawing some criticism.

In a Chromium blog, Google says it is making changes that will improve browser extensions in Chrome. The goal is to make extensions more secure and give users more control over their privacy.

David Li (Product Manager for Chrome) and Simeon Vincent (Developer Advocate for Chrome) discuss how Manifest V3 will change the face of extensions on the browser.

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Manifest V3 is not a new product. It was launched in 2019 as a proprietary replacement for webRequest API and dictates how companies and developers handle ad blocking. Google says it is now blocking remote code on Manifest V3.

According to the company, this will mean it is harder for threat actors to use extensions for attacks:

“The removal of remotely hosted code will also allow us to more thoroughly and quickly review submissions to the Chrome Web Store. Developers will then be able to release updates to their users more quickly,” the announcement claims.

Google adds there will be some performance benefits too:

“Unlike persistent background pages, which remain active in the background and consume system resources regardless of whether the extension is actively using them, service workers are ephemeral. This ephemerality allows Chrome to lower overall system resource utilization since the browser can start up and tear down service workers as needed,” the company points out.

Not Everyone Agrees

While Google’s plans seem to make Manifest V3 better, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) says the plan will worsen privacy and security, not improve it.

“According to Google, Manifest v3 will improve privacy, security and performance. We fundamentally disagree. The changes in Manifest v3 won’t stop malicious extensions, but will hurt innovation, reduce extension capabilities, and harm real-world performance.”

“Under Manifest v2, extensions are treated like first-class applications with their own persistent execution environment. But under v3, they are treated like accessories, given limited privileges and only allowed to execute reactively.”

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