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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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Security

The Five Pillars of (Azure) Cloud-based Application Security

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This 1-hour webinar from GigaOm brings together experts in Azure cloud application migration and security, featuring GigaOm analyst Jon Collins and special guests from Fortinet, Director of Product Marketing for Public Cloud, Daniel Schrader, and Global Director of Public Cloud Architecture and Engineering, Aidan Walden.

These interesting times have accelerated the drive towards digital transformation, application rationalization, and migration to cloud-based architectures. Enterprise organizations are looking to increase efficiency, but without impacting performance or increasing risk, either from infrastructure resilience or end-user behaviors.

Success requires a combination of best practice and appropriate use of technology, depending on where the organization is on its cloud journey. Elements such as zero-trust access and security-driven networking need to be deployed in parallel with security-first operations, breach prevention and response.

If you are looking to migrate applications to the cloud and want to be sure your approach maximizes delivery whilst minimizing risk, this webinar is for you.

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Data Management and Secure Data Storage for the Enterprise

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This free 1-hour webinar from GigaOm Research brings together experts in data management and security, featuring GigaOm Analyst Enrico Signoretti and special guest from RackTop Systems, Jonathan Halstuch. The discussion will focus on data storage and how to protect data against cyberattacks.

Most of the recent news coverage and analysis of cyberattacks focus on hackers getting access and control of critical systems. Yet rarely is it mentioned that the most valuable asset for the organizations under attack is the data contained in these systems.

In this webinar, you will learn about the risks and costs of a poor data security management approach, and how to improve your data storage to prevent and mitigate the consequences of a compromised infrastructure.

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CISO Podcast: Talking Anti-Phishing Solutions

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Simon Gibson earlier this year published the report, “GigaOm Radar for Phishing Prevention and Detection,” which assessed more than a dozen security solutions focused on detecting and mitigating email-borne threats and vulnerabilities. As Gibson noted in his report, email remains a prime vector for attack, reflecting the strategic role it plays in corporate communications.

Earlier this week, Gibson’s report was a featured topic of discussions on David Spark’s popular CISO Security Vendor Relationship Podcast. In it, Spark interviewed a pair of chief information security officers—Mike Johnson, CISO for SalesForce, and James Dolph, CISO for Guidewire Software—to get their take on the role of anti-phishing solutions.

“I want to first give GigaOm some credit here for really pointing out the need to decide what to do with detections,” Johnson said when asked for his thoughts about selecting an anti-phishing tool. “I think a lot of companies charge into a solution for anti-phishing without thinking about what they are going to do when the thing triggers.”

As Johnson noted, the needs and vulnerabilities of a large organization aligned on Microsoft 365 are very different from those of a smaller outfit working with GSuite. A malicious Excel macro-laden file, for example, poses a credible threat to a Microsoft shop and therefore argues for a detonation solution to detect and neutralize malicious payloads before they can spread and morph. On the other hand, a smaller company is more exposed to business email compromise (BEC) attacks, since spending authority is often spread among many employees in these businesses.

Gibson’s radar report describes both in-line and out-of-band solutions, but Johnson said cloud-aligned infrastructures argue against traditional in-line schemes.

“If you put an in-line solution in front of [Microsoft] 365 or in front of GSuite, you are likely decreasing your reliability, because you’ve now introduced this single point of failure. Google and Microsoft have this massive amount of reliability that is built in,” Johnson said.

So how should IT decision makers go about selecting an anti-phishing solution? Dolph answered that question with a series of questions of his own:

“Does it nail the basics? Does it fit with the technologies we have in place? And then secondarily, is it reliable, is it tunable, is it manageable?” he asked. “Because it can add a lot overhead, especially if you have a small team if these tools are really disruptive to the email flow.”

Dolph concluded by noting that it’s important for solutions to provide insight that can help organizations target their protections, as well as support both training and awareness around threats. Finally, he urged organizations to consider how they can measure the effectiveness of solutions.

“I may look at other solutions in the future and how do I compare those solutions to the benchmark of what we have in place?”

Listen to the Podcast: CISO Podcast

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