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Security Implications of Tab Candy

First published: 31st July 2010

The Firefox browser developer, Mozilla, has released a test version of their new way to organise browsed pages, called "Tab Candy". The feature allows users to organise browser tabs into related groups in two dimensions, and switch between them easily. However, two proposed features have security implications:

  1. A helper extension can start suggesting other pages related to a group. Who controls that? Could be a very useful propaganda tool (start a group on evolution, it fills up with "intelligent design" pages, or Tienanmen and it fills up with pro-government analyses), or marketing (search for cameras, the "best deals" page you see is the one that gives the biggest kickback to the extension developer), which, inevitably, leads to tab spam (every group you start gets a "buy viagra" page).
  2. Sharing. You can zoom out and see your friends' tab groups. You'll have to be able to control who sees what, but it will be a pain to remember to do it all the time, and how will organisations control what "friends" of their employees see? It's not just in the workplace, your R&D staff might casually browse something related to your top secret project while at home or in a coffee shop. At the moment, that's a risk a spy would have to be lucky to exploit, candy could make it a lot easier and more reliable.

Tab Candy may or may not be a leap forward in browsing convenience, but the security implications should be considered at an early stage.

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