Chrome extension warns you of malicious websites

You know you need to check the URL before logging in, but wouldn’t it be great if your web browser did some of that checking for you? If you use Chrome and an extension from Information Assurance (IA), it can. The U-M Safe Computing Website Checker extension for Chrome warns you while you are using Chrome:

  • When you are about to visit malicious websites masquerading as the U-M Weblogin page.
  • When you are about to visit other websites that have been identified by U-M IT security staff as significant threats targeting the U-M community.

All MiWorkspace computers received the extension in the August 3 weekly software update. If you do not use a MiWorkspace computer, you can install the extension yourself. Unit IT staff who manage machines with Chrome installed can add the extension to their installation. Information and an installation link are at U-M Safe Computing Website Checker Extension.

Interns in the Information and Technology Services (ITS) Intern Program developed and fine-tuned the extension, working with IA staff. Jacob Rickerd created the extension in 2016, with interns Adam Flickema and Tyler Tran contributing in 2017. After extensive testing in 2018, the extension is now ready for wide use by members of the U-M community (U-M login required to install). “I really enjoyed working with the interns on the extension,” said Matt Coons, senior incident responder and threat analyst. “If it weren’t for them, the extension wouldn’t be available now. Their input was good for the university and good for their careers.”

IA recommends that all members of the U-M community use the extension—and that you still get in the habit of looking at the URL on any webpage before logging in or providing personal information. The extension does not apply to other web browsers. IA also recommends that everyone learn to recognize phishing email, which is where people typically encounter links to malicious websites.