Google has managed to identify and fix a problem that started plaguing users of the bitcoin wallet extension KryptoKit yesterday and caused many to worry that their bitcoins might be irretrievably lost.
Early on 20th May, KryptoKit users started reporting that the extension was mysteriously removing itself from Chrome without prior notice. They also found that the extension had disappeared from the Chrome app store.
KryptoKit project developers tried their best to work out a solution, but it soon became apparent that Google itself was behind the abrupt removal.
Google reinstated KryptoKit’s account a few hours after the issue was detected, but, it did not offer an explanation at the time.
Finally, Google’s Chrome team took to reddit last night to explain what happened, with Google Chrome Product Manager Tyler Odean apologizing for the confusion and explaining what caused the problem.
Odean stressed that no data was compromised or removed from user machines at any point, adding:
“What happened in a nutshell was that real malware was mimicking KryptoKit, which caused our blacklisting protections to get confused.”
The post indicated that the malware developer was trying to steal bitcoin keys using the KryptoKit codebase to build their own malicious extension. Much of the code was identical, so Google flagged the real KryptoKit extension, blacklisting it along with the malware version.
As soon as the issue made it to reddit, the team realised the mistake and reenabled KryptoKit on users’ machines.
Tyler went on to point out that Google has not changed its stance on bitcoin:
“Obviously this is a learning experience for us and we are continuing to perfect our protections in the webstore. But we wanted to emphasize that we are definitely not seeking to limit Bitcoin extensions in general or the KryptoKit extension in particular – but rather trying our best to keep users safe from malicious exploits.”
Interestingly, Odean said many Chrome team members are bitcoin enthusiasts, and ended his reddit post with a strong hint that he is too: “Cheers, Tyler, Bullish”.