Google has announced that all Chrome extensions must now be hosted on the Chrome Web Store, preventing users from downloading plugins from third-party sources. The move is designed to prevent Chrome from being corrupted by malware that could steal personal data.

Google first introduced the restriction to Chrome for Windows last May, and as a result, it saw a 75 percent decrease in support requests from users who wanted to uninstall unwanted extensions. However, the policy was not enforced on the Windows developer channel, so developers could opt out and distribute their extensions externally if they wanted to.

"Unfortunately, we've since observed malicious software forcing users into the developer channel in order to install unwanted off-store extensions," Google said. As a result, it is now enforcing the policy on all Windows channels, and it will bring the same restrictions to Mac in July.

Google will continue to support local extension installs for developers for testing purposes, as well as installs via Enterprise policy — but all extensions ready for public release must be distributed to users via the Chrome Web Store.

Google is encouraging developers to submit their extensions to the Web Store today if they haven't already. It also provides a guide on how to make use of the "inline installation feature," which lets developers integrate Web Store listings on their own website.

"It is crucial that our users stay safe from the reaches of malicious software developers," Google concludes in its announcement. "Extending this protection is one more step to ensure that users of Chrome can enjoy all the web has to offer without the need to worry as they browse."