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Opera, Brave, Vivaldi to ignore Chrome’s anti-ad-blocker changes, despite shared codebase

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Despite sharing a common Chromium codebase, browser makers like Brave, Opera, and Vivaldi don’t have plans on crippling support for ad blocker extensions in their products — as Google is currently planning on doing within Chrome.

The three browsers makers have confirmed to ZDNet, or in public comments, of not intending to support a change to the extensions system that Google plans to add to Chromium, the open-source browser project on which Chrome, Brave, Opera, and Vivaldi are all based on.

The Manifest V3 scandal

Google announced plans to modify the Chromium extension system last October when the browser maker said it would develop a new set of standards — collectively known as Manifest V3 — that will modify how extensions work on top of the Chromium codebase.

It took extension developers a few months to understand how intrusive the Manifest V3 modifications were, but they did eventually realize that Google was planning to replace one of the main technology through which extensions interacted with website requests, in favor of one that was far inferior.

Initially, it was thought that extensions which provided ad-blocking services would be the ones impacted the most, but it was later also discovered that extensions for antivirus products, parental control enforcement, and various privacy-enhancing services were also affected.

Users protested against Google’s decision, and the company came under heavy criticism from the public — with many users accusing it of trying to sabotage ad-blocking extensions that were cutting into Google’s advertising business profits.

Google backtracked on the change a month later, in mid-February, but it appears that the promise to keep the old extension technology intact was just a lie.

At the end of May, Google made a new announcement in which it said that the old technology that ad blockers were relying on would only be available for Chrome enterprise users, but not for regular users.

This time, Chrome developers seem intent on plowing through with their decision, with the Manifest V3 changes being scheduled to go live in January 2020, when ad blocker extensions would see their ability to block ads greatly diminished.

The move has angered Chrome users beyond belief, with many vowing to switch browsers, and many setting their eyes on Firefox, whose developers have been working to transform and rebrand the former fan-favorite into a privacy-first product.

But Google’s planned Manifest V3 changes are being added to the Chromium base, meaning they’ll also likely impact other Chromium-based browsers as well.

Brave

In an email to ZDNet on Friday, Brendan Eich, CEO of Brave Software, said the Brave browser plans to support the old extension technology that Google is currently deprecating.

“To respond on the declarativeWebRequest change (restricting webRequest in full behind an enterprise policy screen), we will continue to support webRequest for all extensions in Brave,” Eich told ZDNet.

In addition, Brave itself supports a built-in ad blocker, that users can utilize as an alternative to any extension.

Furthermore, Eich told ZDNet that Brave would continue to support uBlock Origin and uMatrix, the two extensions developed by Raymond Hill, the Chrome extension developer who’s been highlighting Google’s plans to sabotage Chrome ad blockers for the past months.

Opera

ZDNet also received a similar statement from Opera, another browser vendor which uses the Chromium codebase.

“We might also consider keeping the referenced APIs working, even if Chrome doesn’t, but again, this is not really an issue for the more than 300 million people who have chosen Opera,” an Opera spokesperson told us.

This is because, just like Brave, Opera also ships with a built-in ad blocker.

“All the Opera browsers, both on mobile and PC, come with an ad blocker that users can choose to enable,” the spokesperson said. “This means that Opera users aren’t really exposed to these changes – unlike users of most other browsers.”

Further, this ad blocker is very configurable because it also allows users to import custom domain lists, so users can block any advertising domain they want, giving them full control of what types of ads they can see, or not.

Vivaldi

Vivaldi, another pretty popular Chromium-based browser, published a blog post on Monday affirming its support for giving users a choice — even if the company has not yet decided how it will proceed.

“How we tackle the API change depends on how Google implements the restriction,” said Petter Nilsen, Senior Developer at Vivaldi.

“Once the change is introduced to Chromium, believe me when I say that there are many, many possible scenarios. Restoring the API could be one of them. We’ve restored functionality before,” Nilsen said.

“If the API is removed altogether and no decent alternative is implemented, we might look into creating a limited extensions store.

“The good news is that whatever restrictions Google adds, at the end we can remove them. Our mission will always be to ensure that you have the choice,” Nilsen added.

Microsoft Edge

The only major browser maker who did not respond to our request for comment on this issue was Microsoft.

The company announced last year it was ditching its proprietary EdgeHTML browser engine for a Chromium port of Edge, which is currently in public testing.

Microsoft’s plans in regards to Google’s Manifest V3 changes are currently unknown.

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Cloud Data Security

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Data security has become an immutable part of the technology stack for modern applications. Protecting application assets and data against cybercriminal activities, insider threats, and basic human negligence is no longer an afterthought. It must be addressed early and often, both in the application development cycle and the data analytics stack.

The requirements have grown well beyond the simplistic features provided by data platforms, and as a result a competitive industry has emerged to address the security layer. The capabilities of this layer must be more than thorough, they must also be usable and streamlined, adding a minimum of overhead to existing processes.

To measure the policy management burden, we designed a reproducible test that included a standardized, publicly available dataset and a number of access control policy management scenarios based on real world use cases we have observed for cloud data workloads. We tested two options: Apache Ranger with Apache Atlas and Immuta. This study contrasts the differences between a largely role-based access control model with object tagging (OT-RBAC) to a pure attribute-based access control (ABAC) model using these respective technologies.

This study captures the time and effort involved in managing the ever-evolving access control policies at a modern data-driven enterprise. With this study, we show the impacts of data access control policy management in terms of:

  • Dynamic versus static
  • Scalability
  • Evolvability

In our scenarios, Ranger alone took 76x more policy changes than Immuta to accomplish the same data security objectives, while Ranger with Apache Atlas took 63x more policy changes. For our advanced use cases, Immuta only required one policy change each, while Ranger was not able to fulfill the data security requirement at all.

This study exposed the limitations of extending legacy Hadoop security components into cloud use cases. Apache Ranger uses static policies in an OT-RBAC model for the Hadoop ecosystem with very limited support for attributes. The difference between it and Immuta’s attribute-based access control model (ABAC) became clear. By leveraging dynamic variables, nested attributes, and global row-level policies and row-level security, Immuta can be quickly implemented and updated in comparison with Ranger.

Using Ranger as a data security mechanism creates a high policy-management burden compared to Immuta, as organizations migrate and expand cloud data use—which is shown here to provide scalability, clarity, and evolvability in a complex enterprise’s data security and governance needs.

The chart in Figure 1 reveals the difference in cumulative policy changes required for each platform configuration.

Figure 1. Difference in Cumulative Policy Changes

The assessment and scoring rubric and methodology is detailed in the report. We leave the issue of fairness for the reader to determine. We strongly encourage you, as the reader, to discern for yourself what is of value. We hope this report is informative and helpful in uncovering some of the challenges and nuances of data governance platform selection. You are encouraged to compile your own representative use cases and workflows and review these platforms in a way that is applicable to your requirements.

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GigaOm Radar for Data Loss Prevention

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Data is at the core of modern business: It is our intellectual property, the lifeblood of our interactions with our employees, partners, and customers, and a true business asset. But in a world of increasingly distributed workforces, a growing threat from cybercriminals and bad actors, and ever more stringent regulation, our data is at risk and the impact of losing it, or losing access to it, can be catastrophic.

With this in mind, ensuring a strong data management and security strategy must be high on the agenda of any modern enterprise. Security of our data has to be a primary concern. Ensuring we know how, why, and where our data is used is crucial, as is the need to be sure that data does not leave the organization without appropriate checks and balances.

Keeping ahead of this challenge and mitigating the risk requires a multi-faceted approach. People and processes are key, as, of course, is technology in any data loss prevention (DLP) strategy.

This has led to a reevaluation of both technology and approach to DLP; a recognition that we must evolve an approach that is holistic, intelligent, and able to apply context to our data usage. DLP must form part of a broader risk management strategy.

Within this report, we evaluate the leading vendors who are offering solutions that can form part of your DLP strategy—tools that understand data as well as evaluate insider risk to help mitigate the threat of data loss. This report aims to give enterprise decision-makers an overview of how these offerings can be a part of a wider data security approach.

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Key Criteria for Evaluating Data Loss Prevention Platforms

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Data is a crucial asset for modern businesses and has to be protected in the same way as any other corporate asset, with diligence and care. Loss of data can have catastrophic effects, from reputational damage to significant fines for breaking increasingly stringent regulations.

While the risk of data loss is not new, the landscape we operate in is evolving rapidly. Data can leave data centers in many ways, whether accidental or malicious. The routes for exfiltration also continue to grow, ranging from email, USB sticks, and laptops to ever-more-widely-adopted cloud applications, collaboration tools, and mobile devices. This is driving a resurgence in the enterprise’s need to ensure that no data leaves the organization without appropriate checks and balances in place.

Keeping ahead of this challenge and mitigating the risk requires a multi-faceted approach. Policy, people, and technology are critical components in a data loss prevention (DLP) strategy.

As with any information security strategy, technology plays a significant role. DLP technology has traditionally played a part in helping organizations to mitigate some of the risks of uncontrolled data exfiltration. However, both the technology and threat landscape have shifted significantly, which has led to a reevaluation of DLP tools and strategy.

The modern approach to the challenge needs to be holistic and intelligent, capable of applying context to data usage by building a broader understanding of what the data is, who is using it, and why. Systems in place must also be able to learn when user activity should be classified as unusual so they can better interpret signs of a potential breach.

This advanced approach is also driving new ways of defining the discipline of data loss prevention. Dealing with these risks cannot be viewed in isolation; rather, it must be part of a wider insider risk-management strategy.

Stopping the loss of data, accidental or otherwise, is no small task. This GigaOM Key Criteria Report details DLP solutions and identifies key criteria and evaluation metrics for selecting such a solution. The corresponding GigOm Radar Report identifies vendors and products in this sector that excel. Together, these reports will give decision-makers an overview of the market to help them evaluate existing platforms and decide where to invest.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

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