Matthew Humphries reports:
Browser extensions have become an essential part of surfing the Internet. They add security, useful extra features, and act as a testing ground for functionality that may eventually become a standard part of the most popular browsers.
Not all browser extensions can be trusted, though, and an investigation by German TV channel NDR has uncovered a serious breach of privacy by the Web Of Trust (WOT) service, which over 140 million Web surfers trust to help keep them safe online.
Read more on PC Magazine.
On November 2, WOT posted a message to users, responding to a news report (German) that despite WOT’s claims about anonymizing data, researchers were able to identify at least 50 users. WOT wrote:
We take our users’ privacy rights very seriously, and for that reason we go to great lengths to anonymize and aggregate the data we collect to run our service, and we of course never license or disclose user registration information.
If there have been instances where any information was not adequately anonymized and protected, we will of course look into it and, where necessary, take measures to ensure adequate protection for our users. We appreciate the users who have contacted us and brought this to our attention.
We will continue to proudly protect our users from countless online threats as we have for the past decade.
In the meantime, TWCN reports that Chrome and Firefox have removed the extension in the wake of the report:
The Web Of Trust (WOT) add-on was removed silently by the popular web browsers Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox soon after it was reported on German media that the add-on ‘Web Of Trust’ collects and sells the browsing history of users to third-parties, without even bothering to anonymize the user data.
Thanks to the reader who alerted me to this issue earlier this week.