Opera says a new security partnership with Haute Secure pushes its upcoming Web browser ahead of Firefox.
Opera has beefed up security in its upcoming Web browser as it looks to
challenge Firefox and Internet Explorer in the area of Web security.
Putting a bull's-eye on Web-based threats, Opera has formed a partnership
with Haute Secure, a security vendor founded in 2006, to protect users from
rogue sites known to distribute malware as well as from links users might click
on that would lead to malicious software downloads.
The fruits of this union will arrive in the upcoming Opera 9.5 browser.
The two-pronged approach of protecting against both drive-by malware and
malicious links puts the browser a step ahead of Firefox, which only addresses
the former, said Thomas Ford, global communications manager at Opera.
"Haute Secure provides information to protect down to the specific
link, instead of blocking entire domains," Ford said. "This is
particularly critical because we can block specific hacked pages instead of
The technology may offer something of a plug for a security hole for Web
surfers at a time when mass compromises of legitimate sites have become more
prevalent. According to research
the vast majority of Web-based malware it blocked for its
customers in May came from compromised sites.
According to Ford, Haute Secure uses a combination of heuristic analysis and
community involvement to aid in identifying and addressing false positives and
"The involvement of the communities creates a neighborhood watch effect
where everyone using Opera contributes to the security of all Opera users as
well as the respective communities for each partner-in addition to the data
coming in many times per hour from each partner," Ford said.
Opera users can choose to send information back to Haute Secure or Opera's
anti-phishing partners, Netcraft and PhishTank. Haute Secure also gets Google's
malware data, which is the sole data source for Firefox 3, Ford said.
While Opera has enjoyed some success in the mobile market, it remains behind
more popular browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari on personal
computers. As such, it has not been fodder for hackers as often as the others,
Gartner analyst John Pescatore said.
"[Opera is] mostly protected by security through obscurity-no major
security problems but not really banged on either," he noted.
"I think our security track record is a matter of both features and
philosophy," Ford said. "There are features like Fraud Protection,
but probably more important is a commitment throughout the company to protect
people using our product.
"We patch our vulnerabilities and we patch them fast. We implement
other features with security in mind. Widgets are a good example. We run them
in a secure sandbox so these third-party applications can't be used to reach into
your file system. Sure, that means you won't see a widget that reports on
system-level processes. But that also means you won't have your system owned by
downloading a widget. I'd say it's a lot of little things that add up to making
Opera an extremely safe browser."
Opera officials were mum about when the new version of
the company's browser will be ready, but the company has posted a release candidate
interested to review.