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Chrome and Firefox developers save users from intrusive messages

Chrome and Firefox developers plan to change the mechanics of notifications that sites send to visitors. Creators of browsers will save users from intrusive messages.

In the nearest future, both browsers will hide the default alerts, and users who want to receive them will have to enable the function separately.

Webmasters started showing notifications to site visitors at the end of 2012, when creators of Chrome introduced the corresponding API. A few months later, this feature appeared in Firefox. As authors acknowledge, the option was to provide a better interaction of web resources with the audience. For example, users of instant messengers and social networks can receive messages without going to the site, and the media sites send notifications of new publications.

“However, the capabilities of the Notifications API were quickly appreciated by attackers who turned the channel into a spam and unwanted software delivery tool. In some cases, malware alerts have been used in phishing campaigns”, – say the developers.

Previously, criminals who wanted to send unwanted messages to victims had first to infect them with advertising trojans. Now it’s enough to push user to a malicious site and persuade to subscribe to notifications. Criminals present this as a necessary condition for downloading files, launching multimedia and even leaving the page.

Read also: DDoS attacks on Ubisoft almost completely stopped after company threatens with a lawsuit

Experts say that abandoning annoying messages is as easy as subscribing to them – just remove the unwanted site from the list in your browser settings. However, many users are not aware of this possibility.

It is also worth noting that the legitimate tools of browser notifications over the past seven years have not gained popularity.

A study by Firefox has shown that the vast majority of users refuse such alerts.

“To add from related telemetry data, during a single month of the Firefox 63 Release, a total of 1.45 Billion prompts were shown to users, of which only 23.66 Million were accepted, I.e, for each prompt that is accepted, sixty are denied or ignored. In about 500 Million cases during that month, users actually spent the time to click on “Not Now”, — Mozilla stated in a blog post.

Currently, Firefox developers do not plan to disable the Notifications API. However, with the release of the 72nd version of the browser in January 2020, requests to enable notifications will no longer appear on the screen. They will be hidden in an icon in the address bar, by clicking on which the user will be able to block or allow notifications.

In the case of Chrome, the specific plans of the developers are still unknown. However, back in August, the media reported that the Quieter notification permission prompts appeared in test versions of the browser.

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James Brown

Technology news writer and part-time security researcher. Author of how-to articles related to Windows computer issue solving.

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