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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
More browser coverage:
Phish Fight: Securing Enterprise Communications
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.
When Is a DevSecOps Vendor Not a DevSecOps Vendor?
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.”
High Performance Application Security Testing
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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