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Every time I visit home (only twice a year), I find my younger (teenaged) sister, has managed to give her computer a "virus". Almost inevitably this isn't true virus, but is a malicious browser extension adware. They have popups, and change the search provider and homepage.

Most recently is was ShopperPro, I believe these are largely being installed by her installing freeware that bundles them "Free" extras. and installed them as part of its installer. Similar to the Free Tool bar plague that was (still is?) common back with IE6.

Is there a method I can use to block the installation of Browser Extensions? My sister is not a technically adept person, she's never used a browser extension intentionally, and probably never will.

I would rather not give her a restricted account, on her own computer. I have no desire to be her full time system administrator, just to reduce my work when I visit. Possibly a extension exists which makes all other extentions installed, be initially set to disabled?

My current idea is to rename the Chrome (Safe-Mode), to Chrome so that she can only start it in safe mode, but not being a chrome user myself I don't know if that will have other side effects.

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migrated from Dec 25 '13 at 17:04

This question came from our site for information security professionals.

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I would use Windows Access Control and Permission to prevent installation of Chrome extensions to Chrome's folder by removing the Write and Modify permissions of user accounts to this folder:

In Windows Vista/7/8, the folder is at this path:

%userprofile%\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Extensions

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But won't the user already be elevated because they are installing a application, already? – Oxinabox Dec 25 '13 at 8:59
Nope, we could remove the Write and Modify permissions to that folder from Administrator users . – Minh Triet Pham Tran Dec 26 '13 at 21:29

You can prevent Chrome from loading existing extensions, or installing new extensions by appending the --disable-extensions flag to the command that launches Chrome (e.g. via the properties of the shortcut icon):

chrome.exe --disable-extensions

To override the homepage, you could append the --homepage=<URL> flag:

chrome.exe --disable-extensions --homepage=

You could also try to set up an administrative policy to disable extensions (see documentation). It might be more flexible, but I can imagine that malware developers would modify these policies themselves.

Your sister has probably more to worry about if she blindly installs adware/malware. Some education about the risks of her behavior might be more effective than disabling extensions in Chrome.

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You could use Spybot: Search & Destroy, which has a browser protection feature. It also protects the start page from being changed. You could also use Ninite to install and update some of the most popular freeware and open-source software adware-free.

I think the best way would be to change to firefox, since the opt-in feature is relatively foolproof (this window appears every time a external application installed an addon and if the user doesn't opt in the addon gets deleted): firefox addon confirmation dialogue However I've heard that some malicious adware manipulates this dialogue, but this seems to be quite rare.

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