Chrome to use Extensions Securely

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Extensions Google “recommends switching to Chrome to use extensions securely.” That’s strange, as the new Microsoft Edge is now based on Chromium. You can install extensions from the Chrome Web Store in Edge. But Google recommends against it—why?

Update: Google confirmed our theory, telling Bleeping Computer that Microsoft Edge doesn’t support Google’s Safe Browsing feature. Google can’t remotely remove malicious extensions from Microsoft Edge browsers.

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Why Does Google Warn Against Edge?

Google shows you a warning message when you navigate to the Chrome Web Store in Microsoft Edge. The Chrome Web Store will let you install extensions in Edge, but it shows a big banner reading “Google recommends switching to Chrome to use extensions securely” along with a link to download Google Chrome.

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So what gives—why does Google think Microsoft Edge is a less secure platform for extensions than Google Chrome is, given that both are based on the same underlying Chromium code?

Google won’t say. The warning message provides no links for additional information and Google hasn’t explained its rationale publicly. Bleeping Computer asked Google to explain the message but didn’t get a response. (Update: Google responded, confirming our theory.)

Here’s one theory: Malicious extensions regularly pop up in the Chrome Web Store. When they’re discovered, Google can do more than just remove them from the Store. Google can remotely disable them in everyone’s Chrome browser, ensuring Chrome users aren’t still using that malicious software. It’s just like how Apple can remotely delete a malicious app on your iPhone if it needs to.

This happened recently. In February 2020, Google discovered more than 500 malicious extensions on the Chrome Web Store, removed them from the Store, and remotely disabled them on people’s PCs to keep Chrome users safe.

Microsoft has stripped a lot of the Google services code out of Microsoft Edge, so it’s possible that Google has no way to remotely disable malicious extensions in Microsoft Edge browsers.

Edge Warns Against the Chrome Web Store, Too

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Then again, maybe there’s a simpler answer. Microsoft warns against using the Chrome Web Store, too.

Before you install extensions from the Chrome Web Store in Edge, you have to agree to a message warning that “Extensions installed from sources other than the Microsoft Store are unverified, and may affect browser performance.”

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In a world where Microsoft’s Edge warns against Google’s Chrome Web Store, perhaps it’s no surprise that the Chrome Web Store warns against Edge.

It would be nice if Google and Microsoft figured this out between the two of them and offered up some clear, useful information to their customers. Google should explain this cryptic warning message, but we’re not sure if the company will.