Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

10/21/2013
02:54 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Aviator Browser Blocks Ads, Cookies By Default

Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox betray privacy for ad revenue, claims WhiteHat Security, maker of new privacy-first Aviator browser.

 Microsoft Surface: 10 Best And Worst Changes
Microsoft Surface: 10 Best And Worst Changes
(click image for larger view)
Characterizing mainstream Web browsers as insecure and damaging to privacy, WhiteHat Security has released a browser for OS X called Aviator that blocks ads and preserves privacy by default.

Based on Chromium, the open-source foundation of Google Chrome, Aviator treats advertising as a security vulnerability, privacy violation and general nuisance. Not only does it block ads and advertising tracking cookies via the Disconnect extension, it is preconfigured to use Duck Duck Go, a search engine that does not collect personal information, as its default search engine. Aviator operates in what Google Chrome calls "Incognito mode" all the time.

In a blog post, Robert Hansen, director of product management at WhiteHat Security, explains that browser vendors like Google, Mozilla and Microsoft have elected not go as far as Aviator has gone because doing so would reduce revenue from advertising.

Arguing that those who don't click on ads are not the sort of customers the online ad industry wants, Hansen contends that blocking ads by default can increase online satisfaction for millions, serve advertisers better by showing ads only to those who elect to see them, and protect people from privacy violations and the malware that travels on ad networks.

[ Will Google's enterprise efforts win you over? Read Google In The Enterprise Survey: Mind The Gaps. ]

"[N]ot a single browser vendor offers ad blocking, instead relying on optional third-party plugins, because this breaks their business model and how they make money," said Hansen in his post. "Current incentives between the user and browser vendor are misaligned. People simply aren't safe online when their browser vendor profits from ads."

In March 2011, Dasient, a security firm that sold protection against malicious ads and was acquired by Twitter the following year, estimated that the chance of encountering a malicious ad over three months of browsing was 95%.

In the Aviator FAQs, WhiteHat Security states that Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox are not as secure as Aviator because "implementing truly effective security and privacy would negatively impact their businesses."

Google and Microsoft did not respond to requests for comment. Mozilla declined to comment, but CTO Brendan Eich in June suggested his company's decision to delay implementation of third-party cookie blocking — criticized as succumbing to ad industry pressure — was the result of trying to find a way to deal with third-party cookies on a granular level that avoids the errors that arise when blocking is indiscriminate.

Ad blocking is on the rise, according to PageFair, a consultancy that caters to publishers concerned about ad blocking. A report published by the firm in August, based on a survey of 220 websites with the sort of technically sophisticated audience likely to employ ad-blocking software, found an average ad-blocking rate of 22.7%. PageFair says it expects that figure to grow by 50% over the next five years.

Ad blocking has become significant enough that Google this year began paying to have its search ads whitelisted through Adblock Plus' Acceptable Ads initiative. This initiative, which allows ad companies to prevent their ads from being filtered as long as they meet quality requirements (and pay a fee in the case of large companies), remains controversial and has been likened to a protection racket.

Hansen says that if enough people like Aviator, WhiteHat Security will build a Windows version.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Drew Conry-Murray
50%
50%
Drew Conry-Murray,
User Rank: Ninja
10/22/2013 | 11:12:13 PM
re: Aviator Browser Blocks Ads, Cookies By Default
I hope they bring it to Windows soon!
Data Leak Week: Billions of Sensitive Files Exposed Online
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  12/10/2019
Intel Issues Fix for 'Plundervolt' SGX Flaw
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  12/11/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
The Year in Security: 2019
This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
Flash Poll
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-5252
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-14
There is an improper authentication vulnerability in Huawei smartphones (Y9, Honor 8X, Honor 9 Lite, Honor 9i, Y6 Pro). The applock does not perform a sufficient authentication in a rare condition. Successful exploit could allow the attacker to use the application locked by applock in an instant.
CVE-2019-5235
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-14
Some Huawei smart phones have a null pointer dereference vulnerability. An attacker crafts specific packets and sends to the affected product to exploit this vulnerability. Successful exploitation may cause the affected phone to be abnormal.
CVE-2019-5264
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
There is an information disclosure vulnerability in certain Huawei smartphones (Mate 10;Mate 10 Pro;Honor V10;Changxiang 7S;P-smart;Changxiang 8 Plus;Y9 2018;Honor 9 Lite;Honor 9i;Mate 9). The software does not properly handle certain information of applications locked by applock in a rare condition...
CVE-2019-5277
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
Huawei CloudUSM-EUA V600R006C10;V600R019C00 have an information leak vulnerability. Due to improper configuration, the attacker may cause information leak by successful exploitation.
CVE-2019-5254
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
Certain Huawei products (AP2000;IPS Module;NGFW Module;NIP6300;NIP6600;NIP6800;S5700;SVN5600;SVN5800;SVN5800-C;SeMG9811;Secospace AntiDDoS8000;Secospace USG6300;Secospace USG6500;Secospace USG6600;USG6000V;eSpace U1981) have an out-of-bounds read vulnerability. An attacker who logs in to the board m...