Google Responds to Chrome Frame Security Concerns from Microsoft

Google responds to criticism by Microsoft about Google's Chrome Frame plug-in. Chrome Frame is designed to bring some of the technology of the Google Chrome browser to Microsoft Internet Explorer, and has been reported to speed up the browser. But Microsoft contends that the plug-in increases IE's attack surface.

Google hit back Sept. 24 in response to Microsoft's claims that Google's Chrome Frame makes Internet Explorer less secure.

Google Chrome Frame is an early-stage open-source plug-in that brings Google Chrome's open Web technologies, such as the HTML5 canvas tag and JavaScript engine, to Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser. Google introduced Chrome Frame on Sept. 22, stating that it can be used with IE versions 6, 7 and 8.

In response, Microsoft accused Google of expanding the attack surface for IE. Google meanwhile got in a dig of its own as it touted the security of its Chrome browser.

To read more about Web browser security, click here.

"With Internet Explorer 8, we made significant advancements and updates to make the browser safer for our customers," a Microsoft spokesperson said Sept. 24. "Given the security issues with plug-ins in general and Google Chrome in particular, Google Chrome Frame running as a plug-in has doubled the attack area for malware and malicious scripts. This is not a risk we would recommend our friends and families take."

Part of the issue is that the plug-in seems to undo IE 8's privacy features. According to Google, however, the plug-in was designed with security in mind from the beginning.

"While we encourage users to use a more modern and standards-compliant browser such as Firefox, Safari, Opera or Google Chrome rather than a plug-in, for those who don't, Google Chrome Frame is designed to provide better performance, strong security features and more choice to both developers and users, across all versions of Internet Explorer," a Google spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that accessing sites with Chrome Frame brings the Chrome browser's sandboxing and malware protection features to IE users. Microsoft, however, pointed to the results of a recent browser security test by NSS Labs as proof of IE's security posture. The test was paid for by Microsoft as part of an internal company analysis of IE security. NSS Labs later posted the results for the public.

As the controversy continues, Google is encouraging public involvement in the development of Chrome Frame.

"We invite all parties with thoughts about Google Chrome Frame to explore our code and provide feedback about this technology [to] the open-source community," the spokesperson said.