Saturday, October 23, 2010

Is the best browser I've found totally unprotected against spyware?

I have toyed around with Google Chrome for brief intervals a few times in the past, but over the last ten days or so, I committed to it, made it my default browser, spent a lot of time time setting up my bookmarks to work with its somewhat limited structure.

I loved it. I really did. It was faster than Firefox, my previous browser, and more efficient and functional (in an intuitive sense) than Internet Explorer.

But tonight I am back on Firefox.

I noticed almost from the start that I was getting lots more spam mail in Gmail and then, when I ran Spybot, the search & destroy software that protects my hard drive, that there were a whole helluva lot more adware every time I had the disk checked. This stuff is not necessarily malicious but it is intrusive and annoying.

I did various checks, including running Spybot and cleaning the disk and then, alternately, running Chrome and/or Firefox afterwards for an hour or two and then having Spybot scan the disk system again. In every instance, the amount of adware, which varied from none to 20 instances, was increased following a Chrome session. Ditto the spam in my email.

Is this a common problem? I cannot find any indication that this is so in an (admittedly simple) web search. I know that Spybot makes clear that it is checking out my Firefox and IE browsers (all of the adware is identified as being browser-oriented, by the way) and it does not seem that I can do anything to make it include Chrome in that search, so the evidence is strong that this should not be an issue specific to me but to all users.

Input, people, please. I am most annoyed and we don't want that, do we?


  1. I've used Chrome a good bit and like it. However, in regards to privacy...

    Google makes money advertising. Do you really want to trust them with being the source of your browser?

  2. Excellent point. But it just seems dumb to create a supposedly competitive product 9i.e., one that is intended to out-perform the alternatives) and then undermine it like that. Then again, maybe the majority of users is not as anal as am I on the issue.

  3. I can't say about the adware - it could be the browser, since that's where that stuff generally comes from - but I would hesitate to blame the spam in your Gmail account to Chrome. Being web-based, Gmail does it's spam filtering on the server, i.e. before it gets to you. It seems to be likely a coincidence that more spam showed up when you were using Chrome.

  4. The adware links are definitely from the browser, so identified by Spybot. What you say about email is true also but the relationship is so direct and clear through many tests over the last week that it's hard not to believe they are somehow part of the same issue. Jumping from maybe eight or ten spam mails a day to two or three times that when using one browser and then the other is hard to ignore.

  5. Well, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

    Actually, I was thinking about this, and it occurred to me that it IS possible that your browser choice might have an effect on how much spam you get in your email account, since you could by your browsing be generating spam by the places you go and how the browser handles such places.

    Which makes one wonder, what sort of seamy parts of the Interwebs are you visiting that cause you so much spyware and spam, kindly Mr. Curtin?