Security Firm Claims Google Is Conspiring To Kill Off Firefox

Brad Chacos

Got your tin foil hats on? Good – you’ll need it for this. Earlier this week, Accuvant Labs released a study that named Chrome the most secure browser in all the land. Um, one problem: Google was the one that commissioned the study . But the story doesn’t end there! A couple of days ago, NSS Labs – an independent security research firm – released a report of its own, in which it dissected the flaws in Accuvant’s methodology and claimed that the Accuvant study was but a small portion of a wider plan by Google to effectively kill of Firefox. Oh snap!

“The timing of the Google/Accuvant report is interesting, given that Google’s search contract with Mozilla expired at the end of November,” the NSS Labs report says. “Given that this report was commissioned much earlier in the year – according to the paper, research was completed in July 2011, yet not published until December 2011 – this would suggest a larger strategic move by Google to eliminate the competition. Examination of the test methodology indicates a bias in favor of Google Chrome at the expense of Mozilla Firefox.”

And that’s just the opening paragraph. You can read the whole thing here (PDF).

In addition to the claims made above, NSS says that its independent studies show that Chrome seriously beefed up its malware protection to the tune of 40 percent blockage, a five-fold increase over the previous levels – and it did so in the 11 day span of November 22 to December 2, right when Google’s contract with Firefox expired. Firefox and Safari didn’t see similar jumps, which leads NSS Labs researchers to conclude that Google is withholding data from the SafeBrowsing API it maintains and hosts, since those competing browsers also tap into the SafeBrowsing database of known phishing and malware sites.

Thoughts? Do you think Google is playing an intricate game here, or is it all coincidence and separate events?

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