January 12, 2005
IE security bugs bad for Microsoft, but potentially bad for Google as well
Danish security firm Secunia recently made a widely publicized announcement of a security vulnerability in Internet Explorer which it classified as "Extremely Critical". Secunia suggested changes to IE's settings and a series of patches to download, but still views these as only a "partial fix". Microsoft followed by admitting that the vulnerabilities were "critical", and releasing patches in its monthly security update. However, two other solutions are available:
- Switch browsers. It's likely that this latest security problem with IE will cause Microsoft further loss of share in the browser market to Mozilla's Firefox.
- Simply change the security level in IE to "High" for the "Internet Zone". Many users will prefer this as it doesn't require downloading patches or a new (albeit better) browser.
And herein lies a problem. According to JenSense, who covers Google's contextual advertising from a Web publisher's perspective:
...setting the security level to high for internet zone does more than protect the surfer from this browser exploit... it also blocks all Google AdSense ads from displaying within the browser. So anyone who follows their instructions will no longer be able to view and click on AdSense. The entire ad space usually occupied by AdSense will disappear.
This is actually very similar to the problem publishers have with Norton's Internet Security, which comes free on many new computers, with the "ad blocking" feature turned on my default. Most users have no idea they even have this option turned on.
If this fix becomes widespread - and depending on how long it takes Microsoft to issue a patch for this exploit - this could impact publisher earnings.
If that's true, it would also impact Google's earnings.
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