Stylish, a popular browser extension discovered stealing browser data

January 14, 2019
Popular Browser Extension "Stylish" Discovered Stealing Your Browser Data

Both Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox issued a permanent ban against the browser add-on “Stylish”, after Robert Heaton, a software engineer, accidentally found out that it covertly records browser data and sends them to questionable remote servers.

Stylish is a browser extension add-on that allows users to personalize any website they visit. From changing color scheme to its actual UI, as long as they can be touched by CSS customization, it mainly did the job. And it isn’t surprising that it got popular because of that.

Unfortunately for the add-on, the extension got sold to another hosting company, which then sold it to another one. From then on, Stylish announced its partnership with SimilarWeb – a famous analytics firm that is best known for one of its slogans “Market Solutions To See All Your Competitors’ Traffic“. While not bad in itself, getting tangled with a web company that mainly sells data tracking products and talks about spying your competitors will certainly get you a few raised eyebrows, and it is unclear how SimilarWeb takes Privacy Policy seriously.

People’s fears were confirmed as a recent report showed screenshots of how Stylish extension was indeed collecting browser history and sending them to SimilarWeb servers.

Following the data scandal, Firefox was quick on the job removing the extension page from their store and disabling it from users’ browsers. “We decided to block [Stylish] because of violation of data practices outlined in the review policy,” stated Andreas Wagner, software engineer for Mozilla.

While Google did not offer a statement, Stylish Chrome Web Store page returns a 404 error upon checking.


Try out Stylus browser extension instead

As popular Stylish as a browser add-on is, there is an alternative that works exactly just like the same, but with the added peace of mind that your private data stays with you. It’s available currently on Chrome, Firefox and Opera.


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