Mozilla Installed Promotional Extension onto Firefox Browsers without Users’ Knowledge or Permission
The Mozilla Corporation, the organization responsible for the development of the Firefox web browser and other open-source tools, angered Firefox users by forcibly installing a promotional extension into their web browsers without their knowledge or permission. This Firefox extension, named Looking Glass, was designed to promote the season three finale of the Mr. Robot television series and Mozilla described it as “a shared experience to further your immersion into the Mr. Robot universe, also known as an Alternate Reality Game (ARG).” However, instead of allowing Firefox users to decide for themselves whether or not they wanted to add Looking Glass, Mozilla automatically installed the extension on browsers that had the Firefox Studies option enabled within the Privacy & Security setting menu. This resulted in confusion for Firefox users as the extension’s description was vague and initially just included the words, “MY REALITY IS JUST DIFFERENT THAN YOURS,” leading many to believe they had become infected with malware. After receiving pushback from users, Mozilla admitted its role in the promotional stunt and moved the Looking Glass extension into the Firefox add-on store, making its source code available for review on GitHub. Although this extension did not put user data at risk and did not contain malware, this incident highlights the need for software users to remain vigilant even when using products from companies that were previously considered to be reputable and privacy-conscious. The NJCCIC recommends all browser users regularly review installed extensions to ensure that only those they have previously authorized are installed. Additionally, the NJCCIC recommends Firefox users disable the following browser options to prevent further abuse of Firefox Studies by Mozilla: “Allow Firefox to send technical and interaction data to Mozilla” and “Allow Firefox to install and run studies.” Users can locate these options in their Firefox browsers by visiting Tools > Options > Privacy & Security and scrolling down to the “Firefox Data Collection and Use” section of the page.