Is There a Google Conspiracy?


I'm not the only one that thinks Google (NAS: GOOG) is trying to kill Firefox.

Last week, Big G was happy to present the findings of a research report done by security firm Accuvant. The study was done to measure browser security among the big three browsers: Google Chrome, Microsoft (NAS: MSFT) Internet Explorer, and Mozilla Firefox. And the most secure browser is... insert drum roll here... Chrome!

Accuvant's report said Chrome and IE "implement state-of-the-art anti-exploitation technologies, but Mozilla Firefox lags behind," and Chrome's plugin security and sandboxing architectures are "implemented in a more thorough and comprehensive manner." The net result is that Chrome is "the browser that is most secured against attack."

The fine print will tell you that Google actually funded the study, so the results are unsurprisingly tilted in Chrome's favor. A separate security-testing firm, NSS Labs, has now come out and outright accused Google of conspiring to undermine Firefox. NSS Labs Chief Technology Officer Vikram Phatak said, "This is a vendor-funded paper, and in these cases, the vendor is going to drive the methodology."

NSS Labs isn't purely innocent either -- it has conducted Microsoft-sponsored tests on anti-malware blocking that conveniently ranked IE top dog. Phatak's response? "There's a reason why we don't do that anymore." Meanwhile, he explicitly details his allegations against the search giant:

This tells a story, that Google is looking to go it alone now, and examining their position vis-a-vis Mozilla. Google paid for this report, and it's part of a marketing campaign that's probably aimed at Firefox to cut off Firefox's revenues, cut it off from the SafeBrowsing service, and then put out a report that says Firefox is less secure than Chrome.

Google's SafeBrowsing -- which is used by Chrome, Firefox, and Apple (NAS: AAPL) Safari -- is a service that lets applications to crosscheck URLs against Google's constantly updated lists of suspected sites with bad intentions. Chrome's blocking rate trumps those of Firefox and Safari, leading NSS to conclude that Google isn't allowing others full protection through SafeBrowsing.

NSS finds more evidence in the fact that this study was completed in July, but wasn't released until this month. It just so happens that this month also marked when Chrome finally overtook Firefox's global market share for the first time ever on its way to eventually becoming the browser king, and Mozilla's all-important Google contract is up in the air.

But who can blame Google? While Firefox has made important contributions over the past seven years, Google's best strategy to winning the browser wars is to selectively knock out its closest runner-up. I've already made my case why Mozilla's other search partners like Yahoo! (NAS: YHOO) , (NAS: AMZN) , or Yandex (NAS: YNDX) are unlikely to cover the difference if Google steps out.

Pull the trigger, Google. You know you want to.

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At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributor Evan Niu owns shares of Apple and, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Click here to see his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft,, Yahoo, Apple, and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Google, Apple, Yahoo, Microsoft, and; and creating bull call spread positions in Apple and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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