Adversaries may abuse Internet browser extensions to establish persistent access to victim systems. Browser extensions or plugins are small programs that can add functionality and customize aspects of Internet browsers. They can be installed directly or through a browser's app store and generally have access and permissions to everything that the browser can access.
Malicious extensions can be installed into a browser through malicious app store downloads masquerading as legitimate extensions, through social engineering, or by an adversary that has already compromised a system. Security can be limited on browser app stores so it may not be difficult for malicious extensions to defeat automated scanners. Depending on the browser, adversaries may also manipulate an extension's update url to install updates from an adversary controlled server or manipulate the mobile configuration file to silently install additional extensions.
Previous to macOS 11, adversaries could silently install browser extensions via the command line using the
profiles tool to install malicious
.mobileconfig files. In macOS 11+, the use of the
profiles tool can no longer install configuration profiles, however
.mobileconfig files can be planted and installed with user interaction.
Once the extension is installed, it can browse to websites in the background, steal all information that a user enters into a browser (including credentials) and be used as an installer for a RAT for persistence.
Ensure extensions that are installed are the intended ones as many malicious extensions will masquerade as legitimate ones.
Set a browser extension allow or deny list as appropriate for your security policy. 
|M1033||Limit Software Installation||
Only install browser extensions from trusted sources that can be verified. Browser extensions for some browsers can be controlled through Group Policy. Change settings to prevent the browser from installing extensions without sufficient permissions.
Ensure operating systems and browsers are using the most current version.
Close out all browser sessions when finished using them to prevent any potentially malicious extensions from continuing to run.
|ID||Data Source||Data Component|
|DS0029||Network Traffic||Network Connection Creation|
|DS0024||Windows Registry||Windows Registry Key Creation|
Inventory and monitor browser extension installations that deviate from normal, expected, and benign extensions. Process and network monitoring can be used to detect browsers communicating with a C2 server. However, this may prove to be a difficult way of initially detecting a malicious extension depending on the nature and volume of the traffic it generates.
Monitor for any new items written to the Registry or PE files written to disk. That may correlate with browser extension installation.
On macOS, monitor the command line for usage of the profiles tool, such as
profiles install -type=configuration. Additionally, all installed extensions maintain a
plist file in the
/Library/Managed Preferences/username/ directory. Ensure all listed files are in alignment with approved extensions.