The Wikimedia Foundation issued an important alert on May 14th on its blog (blog.wikimedia.org).  The scammers have figured out a way to worm their way — literally — onto our computers using fake ads on the Wikipedia website.  Philippe Beaudette, Director of Community Advocacy for the Wikimedia Foundation, wrote the blog to alert Wikipedia’s users.

I read Mr. Beaudette’s blog which is very helpful.  He wrote that Wikipedia only posts ads for non-profit fundraising efforts.  So if you’re using Wikipedia and see ads that seem to be from for-profit businesses, there’s a decent chance that your web browser’s been infected with malware or spyware.  How would this happen?  The malware and spyware’s being delivered through an unfortunately cleverly disguised browser extension that’s designed to run across multiple web browsers and operating systems.

The extension affecting Wikipedia is called “IWantThis!” and you don’t want it!.  Brian Krebs (www.krebsonsecurity.com) has also written about “IWantThis!” and even went to its website.  He wrote that the website is deceptively well done as it makes it sound as if “IWantThis!” is just a harmless plugin that occasionally overlays ads on 3rd party websites and helps users share product information or online shipping wish lists with other readers.  What it really does is infect your computer and capture it.

Mr. Beaudette wrote that the “IWantThis!” extension is affecting Google Chrome users but that it’s capable of being installed across multiple web browsers including Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer.

What happens if you’ve installed it already?  Here are Mr. Beaudette’s helpful steps to remove it:

  1. Open the options menu via the “pipe-wrench” icon on the top right and choose “Settings”;
  2. Open the “Extensions” panel and there should be a list of the extensions that are installed on your computer; and
  3. Remove an “Extension” by clicking the “Remove” button next to an item.
Bottom line?  Don’t install anything unless you went and looked for it.