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Did Google Target Mozilla Through a Paid Security Report?

By - Source: http://www.nsslabs.com/assets/noreg-reports/2011/The%20Browser%20Wars%20Just%20Got%20Ugly.pdf | B 21 comments

Should Mozilla be upset over recent findings by a Google-funded browser security analysis and the fact that Chrome is the most secure browser available right now?

NSS Labs, a provider of quarterly browser security reports, thinks so, as it states that the report was heavily skewed in Google's favor.

According to NSS, Google has taken unreasonable influence on the methodology of browser security testing, favored Google features over features in other browsers, did not showcase diligence in testing, and withheld important information in its blacklisting feed to discredit Firefox' ability to block malware.

NSS Labs criticizes the nature of this sponsored report, even if it was accused itself not too long ago to have taken funding from Microsoft for its reports, which usually present IE in a much better light than any other browser and typically focus on social malware exploits. Funded and commissioned studies always carry the inherent danger that a report could be skewed in on direction, which is, in fact, a reasonable assumption. Such studies are frequently funded to not only provide research data, but become marketing material.

Google engaged in a behavior that is common in the industry and some could claim that a focus on testing methodology may simply be a question of philosophy which features may be important and which not. In individual cases, this may be largely irrelevant. Even if you use the most secure browser, irresponsible behavior on the Internet can open doors to successful malicious attacks. However, if Google asked Accuvant to deliberately disable security features in Firefox (and other browsers), there is a clear problem and NSS has every right to spotlight Google's ugly strategy.

NSS noted that it analyzed Accuvant's study on request of some of its customers. I will leave it up to you to speculate which customers may have asked for that (unpaid?) favor.

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Top Comments
  • 12 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , December 16, 2011 8:17 AM
    Quote:
    Should Mozilla be upset over recent findings by a Google-funded browser security analysis and the fact that Chrome is the most secure browser available right now?


    No. Mozilla's target auditory is different from Chrome's. Keep enjoying your retarded streamlined interface, Chrome users... not saying it's a bad browser, but I loathe that interface; FF gets things done while in Chrome I keep cursing around looking under the dropdown menu for the item I need instead of using the traditional File/Edit/Tools/etc. which everybody is trying to rip away from us nowadays; hell, even Win7 tried!
Other Comments
  • 12 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , December 16, 2011 8:17 AM
    Quote:
    Should Mozilla be upset over recent findings by a Google-funded browser security analysis and the fact that Chrome is the most secure browser available right now?


    No. Mozilla's target auditory is different from Chrome's. Keep enjoying your retarded streamlined interface, Chrome users... not saying it's a bad browser, but I loathe that interface; FF gets things done while in Chrome I keep cursing around looking under the dropdown menu for the item I need instead of using the traditional File/Edit/Tools/etc. which everybody is trying to rip away from us nowadays; hell, even Win7 tried!
  • -5 Hide
    enforcer22 , December 16, 2011 8:28 AM
    amk-aka-PhantomNo. Mozilla's target auditory is different from Chrome's. Keep enjoying your retarded streamlined interface, Chrome users... not saying it's a bad browser, but I loathe that interface; FF gets things done while in Chrome I keep cursing around looking under the dropdown menu for the item I need instead of using the traditional File/Edit/Tools/etc. which everybody is trying to rip away from us nowadays; hell, even Win7 tried!



    didnt even know anyone still used that bar.. its been welll ages since i have used anything but the url bar in a browser.
  • Display all 21 comments.
  • 7 Hide
    synd , December 16, 2011 8:36 AM
    SpyEasyChrome is the safest browsers, we people paid by Google tell you that so there's no reason not to believe us.
    Okay, np, np
  • 9 Hide
    mrmaia , December 16, 2011 8:39 AM
    Not really a surprise for me. If embedding its browser in pretty much every software out there and flooding Google search results wasn't enough. I think Chrome is an adware and Google's way of distributing its browser is far, FAR worse than that of Microsoft.

    That's why I stick with Firefox. Mozilla does not try to force FF down our throats, and the browser is really good. I definitely don't want adware in my computer, thats why Chrome will stay out of my hard drive.
  • 9 Hide
    shin0bi272 , December 16, 2011 8:47 AM
    Isnt Google's mantra "dont be evil" ? It seems that they might be failing at that.
  • 6 Hide
    billybobser , December 16, 2011 9:52 AM
    I think the browser is less to blame than the user.

    Adblock + noscript means I'm pretty set.

    Still I am going off firefox a bit with the release schedule, numbering and the direction of the UI.

    Some ui bits look handy, however hiding the menus is pretty dumb. Browsers should have the ability to be modified (EASILY) by the user to create their own UI.
    Instead of having everything but the url bar hidden. The type of users who only use that are probably going on farmville.
  • 4 Hide
    madooo12 , December 16, 2011 10:57 AM
    long live opera
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , December 16, 2011 11:25 AM
    In my experience as a computer tech, I have noticed a predominance of Mozilla users coming in for virus issues--particularly of the fake antivirus variety. But is that because of any inherent flaw in Firefox, or is it because Firefox's "trendy" status attracts more casual (and less security-savvy) users? Safer browsing is always the best protection...
  • -6 Hide
    acerace , December 16, 2011 11:42 AM
    Quote:
    In my experience as a computer tech, I have noticed a predominance of Mozilla users coming in for virus issues--particularly of the fake antivirus variety. But is that because of any inherent flaw in Firefox, or is it because Firefox's "trendy" status attracts more casual (and less security-savvy) users? Safer browsing is always the best protection...


    Don't say anything bad about Firefox. The members don't like it.
  • 2 Hide
    elbert , December 16, 2011 12:10 PM
    Google's chrome is new and unlike Firefox hasn't been around long enough to call on a lot of hackers. Give hackers a little time chrome and your day is coming. This said wasn't Google's email hack huge. ;) 
  • 8 Hide
    lahawzel , December 16, 2011 12:17 PM
    shin0bi272Isnt Google's mantra "dont be evil" ? It seems that they might be failing at that.

    "Don't be evil... unless it's really really convenient."
  • 2 Hide
    j2j663 , December 16, 2011 12:23 PM
    billybobserI think the browser is less to blame than the user.Adblock + noscript means I'm pretty set.Still I am going off firefox a bit with the release schedule, numbering and the direction of the UI.Some ui bits look handy, however hiding the menus is pretty dumb. Browsers should have the ability to be modified (EASILY) by the user to create their own UI.Instead of having everything but the url bar hidden. The type of users who only use that are probably going on farmville.


    Personally I don't mind the change in the user interface of any program. They have always been changing and 'updating' based on the style and preference of the times. If you really know what you are doing you aren't navigating much with that interface anyways, you are using shortcuts. Long story short I don't know how anyone can complain that the file menu is no longer there when it is a simple Alt-F away.
  • 0 Hide
    house70 , December 16, 2011 12:40 PM
    I don't believe Google is doing something "evil" with these paid studies; at the same time, I do not take those studies seriously, because I already know they're biased, and therefore, useless.
  • 4 Hide
    zybch , December 16, 2011 12:53 PM
    I think its amazing that people still trust google after some of the crap they've pulled in the past 2 years. They simply cannot be trusted.
    Ask most people what google is and they'll tell you that its a search engine.
    This is completely wrong.
    Google is first and foremost an advertising company, that just happens to have an okay search product which they use to collect as much personal information about their users as possible to be used in targeting their ads.
    When you get your head around that little fact its hard to trust anything they do any more.
  • 6 Hide
    digitalzom-b , December 16, 2011 1:14 PM
    Google has what plants need. It has electrolytes.
  • 0 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , December 16, 2011 1:45 PM
    Quote:
    Google has what plants need. It has electrolytes.


    That's exactly why I hate tablets, Apple, "simplifying" and other bull$h!t - I don't want to end up like humans did in that movie! :) 
  • 2 Hide
    in_the_loop , December 16, 2011 3:43 PM
    I'm an avid android user and usually love google, but this makes me mad at them!
    There's no need for them to do this either, since the browser already is as big as firefox (about 25% each).
    Also don't like the way they bundle the browser when, for example, downloading google earth.
  • -1 Hide
    redwolfe_98 , December 16, 2011 4:27 PM
    i tried using google-chrome a while back.. at the time, i didn't see any settings for tightening up the browser's security.. now, it has settings for tightening up the security..

    one stupid thing, chrome has a setting for blocking third-party cookies, but it won't allow "exceptions", if needed.. that is stupid.. i know of one website where you have to use a "third-party cookie" in order to be able to login..

    as far as "disabling firefox's security features", i would say that it doesn't have any, except for an option to disable javascript, globally, with no "exceptions", which is stupid.. without the "noscript" addon, which allows for tightening up firefox's security, firefox would be garbage, in my book..

    the article in question brought out some interesting things, for me...
  • 0 Hide
    sailfish , December 16, 2011 5:13 PM
    I suspect that Google's timing of this tells the real story. They currently are in negotiation with Mozilla over the renewal of their default search engine contract which cost them an estimated $100M last year. The lower the Mozilla users, the less they will be willing to pay. Additionally, Mozilla's decision to allow a Bing-enabled version of Firefox probably didn't sit too well with them either.
  • 1 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , December 16, 2011 11:38 PM
    Hmmm......Do you think Google made a mistake? Looks to me like Google has practically issued a challenge to everyone. I wonder who won't be able to resist.
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