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Unaccounted for Google plugin on Firefox

Discussion in 'Web & Email' started by James321, Oct 3, 2019.

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  1. James321

    James321 Thread Starter

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    Several years ago I changed browsers from Google Chrome to Mozilla Firefox for two reasons. One was that Firefox uses less disk space and two, Firefox has a good privacy reputation, whereas Google's privacy reputation is not so good.

    However I was really surprised while looking through CCleaner under Tools, Browser Plugins for Firefox, there was clearly an plugin displayed from Google Inc. (See the screenshot below where it is highlighted)

    I had been completely unaware of this plugin and it had not been installed with my permission. Also the function of the plugin is not identified under the Program type header which is left blank, so the purpose of the plugin is a complete mystery to me.

    I have disabled the plugin, however I was not able to completely delete it.

    Does anyone have any ideas what this plugin is and where it could have come from?


    CCleaner.jpg
     
  2. Cookiegal

    Cookiegal Administrator Malware Specialist Coordinator

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    I believe it's likely an old version of the Google Widevine plugin for viewing videos. It gets downloaded by default in Firefox and just discovered I have it too. My research turned up this which explains why it may be needed:

    https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/enable-drm

    Since you're running an old unsupported operating system and consequently older version of Firefox, it stands to reason this older version of Winevine would be installed. As to why it doesn't show in the discription I don't know perhaps it got damaged by removing stuff with CCleaner or some other program such as a registry cleaner, which should always be avoided.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2019
  3. James321

    James321 Thread Starter

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    I think it could be Widevine as well. Looking more closely in Firefox plugins, it states that it was last updated in December 2016 which is quite some time ago. It can't be very active or used very often.

    I'm also surprised Mozilla is using Google software considering it is meant to have far higher standards when it comes to privacy, etc.
     
  4. Cookiegal

    Cookiegal Administrator Malware Specialist Coordinator

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    2016 is when that version was pushed out so it sounds right.

    Without it though you may not be able to view some things such as Netflix and certain videos.

    There are a lot of third-party extensions used by Firefox yet I don't know many who would read their privacy statements before using them.
     
  5. James321

    James321 Thread Starter

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    I see where you're coming from, however why can't companies like Netflix simply include the relevant plugin on their webpage? According to the Widevine website, they do actually appear to do it that way as they are listed as one of the companies that uses Widevine.

    I don't see why Mozilla Firefox necessarily needs the plugin by default?
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2019
  6. James321

    James321 Thread Starter

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    The Widevine plugin is covered by the same general privacy statement that covers all Google products.

    https://policies.google.com/privacy

    As a company Google is well known for data sharing with third parties.
     
  7. Cookiegal

    Cookiegal Administrator Malware Specialist Coordinator

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    I would see that as more of a security issue. If some obscure website wants me to install a plugin to view some of their content I'm going to skip on by or at the very least check it out and obtain it from the author/vendor. It's more secure to have the browser do it at least then you you're dealing with only one source and you know who it is.
    Netflix is listed as using it but I don't "think" they provide a download for it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2019
  8. Cookiegal

    Cookiegal Administrator Malware Specialist Coordinator

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    I stopped stressing about that years ago. It's not like they have your name and address, we're talking about browsing habits. If we knew half of what third parties already know about us we'd be afraid to leave the house.
     
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  9. James321

    James321 Thread Starter

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    I've certainly heard that argument before regarding internet privacy. However what was all the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook controversy all about if it doesn't matter anyway? You also hear stories about internet companies routinely reading people's email for advertising purposes and for data mining. Something you wouldn't get away with in the case of paper mail.
     
  10. Cookiegal

    Cookiegal Administrator Malware Specialist Coordinator

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    I don't know all of the details in the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook thing but all the more reason not to use Facebook, in my opinion. From what I read users voluntarily gave information in a personality quiz and it snowballed from there.

    All I'm saying is it's almost impossible to prevent everything from finding out stuff about us no matter how hard we try to disable or block things and in doing so we often end up with browsers that barely function. I'm not suggesting users be careless by any means. You have to do some basic hardening of Windows and make some adjustments in browsers but don't go crazy about it installing every possible add-on or security software or blocking/disabling everything as that often proves to cause conflicts resulting in annoying performance issues.

    A lot of the breaches are due to hacks so be prudent about what information you provide to web sites and what sites you visit or deal with in general. However, despite our best efforts and hopefull theirs, supposedly secure web sites like governments and financial institutions that have all of our personal data are getting compromised all the time affecting millions of people and there's absolutely nothing we can do about that.
     
  11. James321

    James321 Thread Starter

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    I know that private corporations take internet security very seriously indeed. Industrial espionage has been a serious problem in the past and still is. Foreign corporations allied with national governments can gain huge advantage over their foreign rivals by stealing industrial secrets. Because of this corporations will use the full suite of security measures to stop this happening: restricting internet access to networks which cannot access sensitive information, extensive use of firewalls, proxy servers and online encryption.

    Of course you have to take into account that it may not just be your own government that is keeping tabs on you over the internet but any government across the planet or indeed any number of unidentified private organisations from a whole plethora of political beliefs.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2019
  12. Cookiegal

    Cookiegal Administrator Malware Specialist Coordinator

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    Yes of course yet they still manage to have information stolen. Many times it's an employee so not really a hack but an inside job. Think about it, how many thousands of employees work for these large corporations, governments, financial institutions and hospitals who have access to our information. I've said it before, sure they sign non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements but a piece of paper isn't going to stop the bad guys and an honest person don't really need to sign anything to keep someone else's information safe so it's not worth the paper it's written on.

    Unfortunately, this is turning into a debate even though we're on the same side (advocating for privacy). I just feel it's a losing battle these days.
     
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