New Delhi: Internet users should exercise caution while installing Google Chrome extensions as the company has removed over 100 malicious links after they were found collecting "sensitive" user data, country's cyber security agency said on Wednesday.
The Computer Emergency Response Team of India (CERT-In), the national technology arm to combat cyber attacks and guard the Indian cyber space, said it has also been found that these extensions contained code to bypass Google Chrome's web store security scans.
The malicious extensions had the ability to take screenshots, read the clipboard, harvest authentication cookies or grab user keystrokes to read passwords and other confidential information, it said.
"It has been reported that Google has removed 106 extensions of the Google Chrome browser from the chrome web store which were found collecting sensitive user data," the agency said in the advisory.
"These extensions, reportedly posed as tools to improve web searches, convert files between different formats as security scanners and more," it added.
The federal cyber security agency suggested users to uninstall Google Chrome extensions with IDs given in the IOCs (organisational chart) section.
Users can visit the chrome extensions page and subsequently enable developer mode to see if they have installed any of the malicious extensions and then remove them from their browsers, it said.
The agency advised Internet users to only install extensions which are absolutely needed and refer user reviews before doing so. They should uninstall extensions which are not in use, it said, adding that users should not install extensions from unverified sources.
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Berlin: Scientists have identified highly effective antibodies against the novel coronavirus, which they say can lead to the development of a passive vaccination for COVID-19.
Unlike in active vaccination, passive vaccination involves the administration of ready-made antibodies, which are degraded after some time.
However, the effect of a passive vaccination is almost immediate, whereas with an active vaccination it has to build up first, the researchers said.
The research, published in the journal Cell, also shows that some SARS-CoV-2 antibodies bind to tissue samples from various organs, which could potentially trigger undesired side effects.
The scientists at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) and Charite - Universitatsmedizin Berlin isolated almost 600 different antibodies from the blood of individuals who had overcome COVID-19, the disease triggered by SARS-CoV-2.
By means of laboratory tests, they were able to narrow this number down to a few antibodies that were particularly effective at binding to the virus.
The researchers then produced these antibodies artificially using cell cultures.
The so-called neutralising antibodies bind to the virus, as crystallographic analysis reveals, and thus prevent the pathogen from entering cells and reproducing, they said.
In addition, virus recognition by antibodies helps immune cells to eliminate the pathogen. Studies in hamsters -- which, like humans, are susceptible to infection by SARS-CoV-2 -- confirmed the high efficacy of the selected antibodies.
If the antibodies were given after an infection, the hamsters developed mild disease symptoms at most. If the antibodies were applied preventively -- before infection -- the animals did not get sick, said Jakob Kreye, coordinator of the research project.
The researchers noted that treating infectious diseases with antibodies has a long history.
For COVID-19, this approach is also being investigated through the administration of plasma derived from the blood of recovered patients. With the plasma, antibodies of donors are transferred, they said.
"Ideally, the most effective antibody is produced in a controlled manner on an industrial scale and in constant quality. This is the goal we are pursuing," said Momsen Reincke, first author of the research.
Three of our antibodies are particularly promising for clinical development, explained Harald Pruss, a research group leader at the DZNE and also a senior physician at Charite Universitatsmedizin Berlin.
"Using these antibodies, we have started to develop a passive vaccination against SARS-CoV-2," Pruss said.
In addition to the treatment of patients, preventive protection of healthy individuals who have had contact with infected persons is also a potential application, the researchers said.
How long the protection lasts will have to be investigated in clinical studies, they said.
This is because, unlike in active vaccination, passive vaccination involves the administration of ready-made antibodies, which are degraded after some time, Pruss said. In general, the protection provided by a passive vaccination is less persistent than that provided by an active vaccination, the researchers said.
However, the effect of a passive vaccination is almost immediate, whereas with an active vaccination it has to build up first, they said.
It would be best if both options were available so that a flexible response could be made depending on the situation, Pruss added.