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Mozilla announces ProtonVPN partnership in attempt to diversify revenue stream

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Mozilla announced plans today to test a possible partnership with ProtonVPN in the hopes of securing a future revenue stream.

Starting Wednesday, October 25, Mozilla plans to select a small number of Firefox users and show them an ad to purchase a monthly subscription to ProtonVPN.

Only US-based Firefox users on the latest Firefox 62 for desktop versions (Windows, Mac, and Linux) are eligible. The experiment will be time-limited and Mozilla will assess its success before expanding it to its global userbase.

The ad will be displayed inside a doorhanger-type popup in the right corner of the Firefox browser when users are connected to an unsecure public WiFi network.


Image: Mozilla

Users who click the ad will be redirected to a secure page where they can purchase a monthly subscription for the ProtonVPN service for $10.

Payments will be handled via Stripe and Recurly. Mozilla says that a portion of the proceeds will go to ProtonVPN for operating costs, while they’ll keep the rest.

“Even though Mozilla will process these subscriptions, users who subscribe to the service through Mozilla will still receive the exact same software and benefits that come with our ProtonVPN Plus subscription,” ProtonVPN said today in a blog post. The ProtonVPN Plus plan costs $8 on ProtonVPN’s site, but users buying it from Mozilla’s site will have the moral satisfaction that they’ve helped Firefox keep afloat.

“The Mozilla and ProtonVPN partnership is an experiment in finding new ways to keep Internet users safe while simultaneously ensuring that open source and non-profit software development gets the resources that it deserves,” ProtonVPN added.

But experiment or not, ProtonVPN also stands to make a lot of money if Mozilla is satisfied with the test run’s results and expands this offer to its entire 300-million-strong userbase.

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Image: Mozilla
firefox-protonvpn-purchasing-form.png

Image: Mozilla

Mozilla said it selected ProtonVPN for this partnership after it conducted a thorough evaluation of a long list of market-leading VPN services.

“Our team looked closely at a wide variety of factors, ranging from the design and implementation of each VPN service and its accompanying software, to the security of the vendor’s own network and internal systems,” said Chris More, Product Lead, Growth & Services at Mozilla.

“We examined each vendors’ privacy and data retention policies to ensure they logged as little user data as possible,” More added. “And we considered numerous other factors, including local privacy laws, company track record, transparency, and quality of support.”

The organization selected ProtonVPN, a VPN service from the same company that also runs the secure email provider ProtonMail.

This limited experiment and ProtonVPN partnership is Mozilla’s attempt to diversify its revenue stream.

In the past decade, the vast majority of the Mozilla Corporation’s revenue has come from royalties earned through Firefox web browser search partnerships. The biggest source of income, by far, is Mozilla’s partnership with Google.

The organization has been looking for alternate revenue streams for years, but with little success.

Mozilla did not say for how long this experiment will last, but early feedback shows interest and positive reactions from the Firefox community.

VPNs, in general, are popular and sought-after software products these days because they allow users to access the Internet via encrypted connections that are protected against monitoring and eavesdropping at the ISP or government-level.

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Phish Fight: Securing Enterprise Communications

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Yes, much of the world may have moved on from email to social media and culturally dubious TikTok dances, yet traditional electronic mail remains a foundation of business communication. And sadly, it remains a prime vector for malware, data leakage, and phishing attacks that can undermine enterprise protections. It doesn’t have to be that way.

In a just released report titled “GigaOm Radar for Phishing Prevention and Detection,” GigaOm Analyst Simon Gibson surveyed more than a dozen enterprise-focused email security solutions. He found a range of approaches to securing communications that often can be fitted together to provide critical, defense-in-depth protection against even determined attackers.

Figure 1. GigaOm Radar for Email Phishing Prevention and Detection

“When evaluating these vendors and their solutions, it is important to consider your own business and workflow,” Gibson writes in the report, stressing the need to deploy solutions that best address your organization’s business workflow and email traffic. “For some it may be preferable to settle on one comprehensive solution, while for others building a best-of-breed architecture from multiple vendors may be preferable.”

In a field of competent solutions, Gibson found that Forcepoint, purchased recently by Raytheon, stood apart thanks to the layered protections provided by its Advanced Classification Engine. Area 1 and Zimperium, meanwhile, are both leaders that exhibit significant momentum, with Area 1 boosted by its recent solution partnership with Virtru, and Zimperium excelling in its deep commitment to mobile message security.

A mobile focus is timely, Gibson says in a video interview for GigaOm. He says companies are “tuning the spigot on” and enabling unprecedented access and reliance on mobile devices, which is creating an urgent need to get ahead of threats.

Gibson’s conclusion in the report? He singles out three things: Defense in depth, awareness of existing patterns and infrastructure, and a healthy respect for the “human factor” that can make security so hard to lock down.

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When Is a DevSecOps Vendor Not a DevSecOps Vendor?

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DevOps’ general aim is to enable a more efficient process for producing software and technology solutions and bringing stakeholders together to speed up delivery. But we know from experience that this inherently creative, outcome-driven approach often forgets about one thing until too late in the process—security. Too often, security is brought into the timeline just before deployment, risking last minute headaches and major delays. The security team is pushed into being the Greek chorus of the process, “ruining everyone’s fun” by demanding changes and slowing things down.

But as we know, in the complex, multi-cloud and containerized environment we find ourselves in, security is becoming more important and challenging than ever. And the costs of security failure are not only measured in slower deployment, but in compliance breaches and reputational damage.

The term “DevSecOps” has been coined to characterize how security needs to be at the heart of the DevOps process. This is in part principle and part tools. As a principle, DevSecOps fits with the concept of “shifting left,” that is, ensuring that security is treated as early as possible in the development process. So far, so simple.

From a tooling perspective, however, things get more complicated, not least because the market has seen a number of platforms marketing themselves as DevSecOps. As we have been writing our Key Criteria report on the subject, we have learned that not all DevSecOps vendors are necessarily DevSecOps vendors. Specifically, we have learned to distinguish capabilities that directly enable the goals of DevSecOps from a process perspective, from those designed to support DevSecOps practices. We could define them as: “Those that do, and those that help.”

This is how to tell the two types of vendor apart and how to use them.

Vendors Enabling DevSecOps: “Tools That Do”

A number of tools work to facilitate the DevSecOps process -– let’s bite the bullet and call them DevSecOps tools. They help teams set out each stage of software development, bringing siloed teams together behind a unified vision that allows fast, high-quality development, with security considerations at its core. DevSecOps tools work across the development process, for example:

  • Create: Help to set and implement policy
  • Develop: Apply guidance to the process and aid its implementation
  • Test: Facilitate and guide security testing procedures
  • Deploy: Provide reports to assure confidence to deploy the application

The key element that sets these tool sets apart is the ability to automate and reduce friction within the development process. They will prompt action, stop a team from moving from one stage to another if the process has not adequately addressed security concerns, and guide the roadmap for the development from start to finish.

Supporting DevSecOps: “Tools That Help”

In this category we place those tools which aid the execution, and monitoring, of good DevSecOps principles. Security scanning and application/infrastructure hardening tools are a key element of these processes: Software composition analysis (SCA) forms a part of the development stage, static/dynamic application security testing (SAST/DAST) is integral to the test stage and runtime app protection (RASP) is a key to the Deploy stage.

Tools like this are a vital part of the security layer of security tooling, especially just before deployment – and they often come with APIs so they can be plugged into the CI/CD process. However, while these capabilities are very important to DevSecOps, they can be seen in more of a supporting role, rather than being DevSecOps tools per se.

DevSecOps-washing is not a good idea for the enterprise

While one might argue that security should never have been shifted right, DevSecOps exists to ensure that security best practices take place across the development lifecycle. A corollary exists to the idea of “tools that help,” namely that organizations implementing these tools are not “doing DevSecOps,” any more than vendors providing these tools are DevSecOps vendors.

The only way to “do” DevSecOps is to fully embrace security at a process management and governance level: This means assessing risk, defining policy, setting review gates, and disallowing progress for insecure deliverables. Organizations that embrace DevSecOps can get help from what we are calling DevSecOps tools, as well as from scanning and hardening tools that help support its goals.

At the end of the day, all security and governance boils down to risk: If you buy a scanning tool so you can check a box that says “DevSecOps,” you are potentially adding to your risk posture, rather than mitigating it. So, get your DevSecOps strategy fixed first, then consider how you can add automation, visibility, and control using “tools that do,” as well as benefit from “tools that help.”

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High Performance Application Security Testing

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This free 1-hour webinar from GigaOm Research. It is hosted by an expert in Application and API testing, and GigaOm analyst, Jake Dolezal. His presentation will focus on the results of high performance testing we completed against two security mechanisms: ModSecurity on NGINX and NGINX App Protect. Additionally, we tested the AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF) as a fully managed security offering.

While performance is important, it is only one criterion for a Web Application Firewall selection. The results of the report are revealing about these platforms. The methodology will be shown with clarity and transparency on how you might replicate these tests to mimic your own workloads and requirements.

Register now to join GigaOm and sponsor NGINX for this free expert webinar.

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