A researcher who found evidence of data harvesting inside Ledger Live has revealed equally disturbing harvesters inside MetaMask and Avalanche browser extensions.
MetaMask, the world’s most popular crypto wallet, uses a single pixel (‘1X1’) iFrame to embed trackers into its browser extension. The Ethereum- and ConsenSys-backed extension contains a data harvesting ‘analytics_iFrame’ within its code.
For context, the iFrame is an old trick by web marketers. Publishers would secretly serve ad code inside an iFrame displayed as one, invisibly small pixel — tolling untold profits through invisible ad impressions. Due to years of iFrame abuse, many web browsers and advertising platforms ban iFrames altogether.
However, MetaMask still uses an invisible iFrame — perhaps hoping that no one would have thought to look through its outdated bits of CSS code. The iFrame within the browser extension circumvents traditional web safety services because the user voluntarily installs the extension and approves its permissions.
“You access, rely upon, or use any third-party content or third-party service at your own risk. Consensys disclaims all responsibility and liability for any losses on account of your reliance upon or use of such content or services.”
MetaMask’s terms do not clarify whether these third-party offerings include data harvesting or code hidden within iFrames.
Another data harvesting operation: Avalanche
The same researcher who exposed data harvesting inside Metamask and Ledger Live also revealed concerning web extensions in another crypto wallet: Avalanche.
Avalanche added analytics code to its Core App Chrome extension. Avalanche used to make all its code open source. However, at some point, it changed its licenses. The analytics portion of Avalanche’s extension is not open source.
Data harvesting includes transaction data, mouse clicks, and other actions users take while using Avalanche’s wallet browser extension and its token, AVAX.
Naturally, researcher REKTbuildr questioned why these web extensions, which also serve as crypto wallets for millions of people, need to use analytics trackers at all.
As with REKTbuildr’s critique of Ledger Live, the researcher expects that Avalanche allows transmission of anonymized audience data to internal UI/UX teams or third-party advertisers.