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
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!
Commentary
How SolarWinds Busted Up Our Assumptions About Code Signing
Dr. Jethro Beekman, Technical Director,  3/3/2021
News
'ObliqueRAT' Now Hides Behind Images on Compromised Websites
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  3/2/2021
News
Attackers Turn Struggling Software Projects Into Trojan Horses
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  2/26/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: George has not accepted that the technology age has come to an end.
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-28466
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-07
This affects all versions of package github.com/nats-io/nats-server/server. Untrusted accounts are able to crash the server using configs that represent a service export/import cycles. Disclaimer from the maintainers: Running a NATS service which is exposed to untrusted users presents a heightened r...
CVE-2021-27364
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-07
An issue was discovered in the Linux kernel through 5.11.3. drivers/scsi/scsi_transport_iscsi.c is adversely affected by the ability of an unprivileged user to craft Netlink messages.
CVE-2021-27365
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-07
An issue was discovered in the Linux kernel through 5.11.3. Certain iSCSI data structures do not have appropriate length constraints or checks, and can exceed the PAGE_SIZE value. An unprivileged user can send a Netlink message that is associated with iSCSI, and has a length up to the maximum length...
CVE-2021-27363
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-07
An issue was discovered in the Linux kernel through 5.11.3. A kernel pointer leak can be used to determine the address of the iscsi_transport structure. When an iSCSI transport is registered with the iSCSI subsystem, the transport's handle is available to unprivileged users via the sysfs file system...
CVE-2021-26294
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-07
An issue was discovered in AfterLogic Aurora through 7.7.9 and WebMail Pro through 7.7.9. They allow directory traversal to read files (such as a data/settings/settings.xml file containing admin panel credentials), as demonstrated by dav/server.php/files/personal/%2e%2e when using the caldav_public_...