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This article was published on February 19, 2010

Microsoft Browser Poll could be heaven for hackers

Microsoft Browser Poll could be heaven for hackers
Martin Bryant
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Martin Bryant

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Martin Bryant is founder of Big Revolution, where he helps tech companies refine their proposition and positioning, and develops high-qualit Martin Bryant is founder of Big Revolution, where he helps tech companies refine their proposition and positioning, and develops high-quality, compelling content for them. He previously served in several roles at TNW, including Editor-in-Chief. He left the company in April 2016 for pastures new.

Microsoft browser pollHackers find a way to get into every corner of the internet and Microsoft’s antitrust-busting ‘Browser Poll’, due to launch in Europe next week, could be no different.

Computer security firm Sophos has issued a warning that hackers could exploit the scheme to trick users with fake browser choice screens.

Microsoft’s scheme was introduced to appease the European Commission which was investigating Microsoft’s ‘unfair advantage’ in the browser market due to Internet Explorer being bundled with Windows. Set to launch gradually roll out across Europe from next week onwards, the scheme will give Windows users the opportunity to choose from 12 different browsers (see screenshots here).

However, hackers could take advantage of the situation, Sophos is warning. “There is a real danger that cybercriminals might attempt to take advantage of this initiative by creating bogus browser choice screens that could pop up on innocent users’ PCs and potentially lead them to a malicious download”, says Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant at Sophos.

While security firms are keen to label virtually any online technology as a risk (it’s good for business) there certainly is a chance this will play out to be true.

Clued-up internet users, already used to try alernative browsers would be unlikely to be fooled by hackers’ fake browser windows. Average users, however, may well be aware that something to do with browser selection is going on and believe that a fake screen was the real deal.