A new study from Google conducted with the help of researchers from the Universities of California-Berkley and Santa Barbara revealed recently that more than 5 percent of browser visits to Google Search and other Google-owned sites are tweaked by Superfish and other related programs.
Superfish gained notoriety several months ago, when it was revealed that some Lenovo machines and devices came pre-installed with the company’s adware. This time around, though, Superfish is supposedly responsible for most of the ad injections spotted on more than 102 million Google page views between June and September 2014. According to the study’s findings, ad injector software had interfered with 5,339,913 page views, or 5.2 percent of the page views analyzed. That’s also 5.5 percent of unique daily IPs that had accessed Google websites.
A total of 34,407 programs and 50,870 Google Chrome extensions were also discovered to have injected advertisements. 17 percent of the programs and 38 percent of the extensions, furthermore, were classified as malware, with the remaining programs and extensions being more similar to adware. However, Superfish and Jollywallet were the two most common ad injectors discovered in the Google/UC-Berkeley/UC-Santa Barbara study. The former program offers shopping suggestions in ad form to viewers based on image similarity searches, while the latter overrides affiliate criteria in shopping site URLs to earn referral commissions, even if traffic isn’t actually driven to the site of the product in question.
The study also noted that 96 percent of browser extensions and 97 percent of injector-type programs of the spotted ad injectors had contacted superfish.com. Interestingly, though, 50 percent of extensions made use of two or more ad injection libraries, and 80 percent used four or more.