Chrome on, baby, don

The US government UU You may have problems to regulate Google, but one of its developers has found a way to control the search engine of the Chocolate Factory.

David Flater, a computer scientist at the National Institute of Uncle Sam Standards and Technology (NIST), has created a Chrome extension to eliminate excessive browser processes, and this month released the code under an MIT open source license. It's called The Chrome Reaper.

Chrome has developed something like a reputation as a resource grabber, having been plagued by RAM swallowing problems and CPU taxes over the years.

While these problems can sometimes be attributed to errors and browser design decisions, they can also be the result of encryption code, bloated web pages, Flash files or poorly written JavaScript.

"I did the extension because I have found websites that saturated my CPU for no reason explained," Flater said in an email to The Register . "The extension detects the problem and automatically stops it, where before I had to realize that my computer was stuck and trace the cause manually."

The extension is based on Andy Young's 2013 Process Monitor for Chrome, from which he inherits his MIT license.

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The Chrome Reaper is primarily intended as a defense against cryptominio, although Flater admits that he has no data on the prevalence of the code generating coins. 19659002] According to IBM's X9 Force X9 report, piracy hacking attacks – the hijacking of the browser's CPU to undercut cryptocurrency through JavaScript – have "more than quadrupled" between the fourth quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019. The Big Blue security group also insists that malware-based encryption affects applications and operating systems instead of Chrome.

The Flater extension is designed to terminate a Chrome process when the CPU demand meets or exceeds a predetermined threshold for a specific period of time. Therefore, it can be configured to point to spikes of use or less noticeable increases that persist for a while, a tactic that some crypto codes adopted to minimize the risk of detection.

It also supports whitelisting, so it will not intervene when legitimate demands for CPU power have been anticipated.

The documentation warns that Reaper is based on an experimental API, the chrome processes, and may have security implications. "In terms of net risk, there is a tradeoff between Reaper's mitigation of malware in the browser and the significant expansion of the attack surface and the weakening of browser defenses that result from enabling the experimental APIs and the developer mode" , explains the documentation.

As such, The Chrome Reaper is not available through the Google Chrome Web Store. But certain types with a modest technical knowledge can check the source code and, if they are satisfied, they can download the files and install them manually following the instructions provided.

After re-launching Chrome, the extension will display an icon in the browser's address bar showing the percentage of CPU utilization, which should provide a visual warning before the Reaper arrives. ®

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