Russian-backed hackers have altered popular Fake News browser plug-ins and inserted a virus.
Russian-backed hackers have altered popular Fake News browser plug-ins and inserted a virus.

Washington, D.C. — The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a brief via its advisory system warning citizens that several web browser extensions contain malicious code that seems to have originated from Russia and Macedonia. The browser plug-ins, which have become popular in the past couple of weeks after several unsubstantiated reports emerged from mainstream media sources, were designed by several undergraduate journalism students to detect and notify the user that they may be looking at a fake news site.

According to DHS officials, soon after the browser extension was released to the popular software site SourceForge, the code was appropriated by Eastern European hackers and transmitted to the Kremlin. From there, the plug-in was “farmed” to several Russian-friendly “software farms” where it was altered, and then re-uploaded to SourceForge. Since then, it has been downloaded over 2.4 million times, including thousands of downloads to government locations. The altered browser extension tracks and gathers sensitive user information primarily during e-commerce shopping, although many users have reported that their web browsers have been redirected to a series of “midget porn” sites.

“It appears that this was all part of the plan starting months ago,” said DHS Director of Communications Bethany Millbright reading from a prepared statement. “As other DHS organizations have reported, the Russians have tampered with our election process primarily through social media. And with these browser extensions, which were originally intended to flag false news sites like Buzzfeed, the World Net Daily and the sections of the Washington Post, the Russians seem to be working on phase two of their disinformation campaign as millions of Americans rush to install these plug-ins. We are recommending that everyone disable it until further DHS review.”

The plug-ins primarily effected are the “Web of Trust,” “Fake News Alert” and the “B.S. Detector” Chrome extensions, the “iFaker” extension for Apple Safari browsers, and the “Don’t be a Dope” app for Android and iPhones.

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