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Google Chrome extensions are failing, and $8,000 is on the table for a fix

There seems to be some mysterious problem affecting certain Chrome extensions, but it’s intermittent enough that it hasn’t yet been solved. The problem is annoying enough that one developer has posted two $4,000 bug bounties and created an Upwork job listing that pays up to $150 per hour. These incentives might inspire others to help track down and fix the bug.

First spotted by TechRadar and described in detail in a blog post written by Jói Sigurdsson, founder and CEO of the CrankWheel screen-sharing extension for the Google Chrome browser, the bug is related to a failure to trigger an action when the extension’s icon is clicked on the toolbar. Since this is frequently how an extension is used, it’s a crippling error. Unfortunately, the problem is difficult to recreate and is estimated to impact only 3% to 5% of those that have affected extensions installed.

A mouse pointer hovering over the CrankWheel Chrome Eextension.

Sigurdsson posted the bug to the Chromium Bug Tracker in April 2022 and got a confirmation from another person in June 2022 that the problem was affecting other extensions, some quite popular. Two password managers, LastPass and Norton, apparently suffer from the bug, as well as Google’s own Picture in Picture extension and the Screencastify screen recorder. This places the number of people potentially experiencing the problem into the millions.

Tracking down elusive and intermittent bugs can be quite difficult, so for anyone with sufficient programming skills and experience in developing Chrome extensions, there’s a nice challenge waiting. The first $4,000 bug bounty is for being able to consistently (90% or more) reproduce the issue. The second $4,000 bounty will be paid for a confirmed fix that is accepted by the Chromium team. This is in addition to the hourly fee being offered in Upwork.

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