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Firefox Malware

Search Google for “Firefox” and you’ll get several advertisements offering Firefox. Most of them link to Google’s toolbar/Firefox combo download (for which Google pays the webmaster for each download). This is shady at best, but not quite the subject of this post. The image in this post shows 5 ads that appeared for me. 2 of them were blocked by Google Desktop as Malware.

Firefox MalwareFirefox Malware 2

Why does Google show ads for sites their own products block as being harmful? It seems obvious that if the site hits any blacklist (phishing, malware) used by a Google product should automatically suspend the campaign.

The other ads are still harmful as a user shouldn’t think they need to get Firefox through a Google toolbar bundle, nor should they think they need to pay for Firefox (as much as $39.95). As for those who serve up their own binaries… Who knows what’s lurking inside.

Is there a need for a Mozilla Genuine Advantage program? Am I the only one who thinks this is a big problem?

For the record, there are unofficial Firefox builds, and quite a few Gecko based browsers that are perfectly legit. What’s wrong here is that these are being branded as “Firefox” and made to look official when in fact they are not.

5 replies on “Firefox Malware”


People charging for “Firefox” is definitely a serious problem. There are a few ways we could address it–the most obvious being user education (this fits nicely in to the support stuff we are working on). We need to let people know that if they were charge for Firefox, they usually should dispute the charge with their credit card company. Please contact me– you’ve got my email with this reply. I would appreciate your help in combating this problem.


IMO, the fact that Mozilla has made deals with Google, RealNetworks, et al. to distribute Firefox really is a big part of the problem. Stories like this one from Macworld make it clear to users that it’s fine to get Firefox from some third party rather than from Mozilla.

Mark: problem is resources:

1. Tracking them down.
2. Going after them.

Even if you accomplish that (hard to do), it’s still a cat/mouse game. Ideally they shouldn’t be on Google AdSense to begin with.

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