Online Security Firms Seem Non-Committal about Phorm Blocking

Behavioral ad targeting company Phorm could find its controversial technology automatically blocked by some online security firms.

The BBC reported the likes of Symantec, Trend Micro, and McAfee are “scrutinizing” the ad-system, and could decide to block cookies needed for its operation, should they deem it “adware.”
With a vast number of users worldwide using security software on their machines, this could have a devastating effect on Phorm’s audience numbers, and ad revenue opportunities as a result.

This is not the first time Phorm has faced issues over security. In its previous incarnation as 121 media, a piece of software it was responsible for titled PeopleOnPage was considered by some to be spyware, a fact that is unlikely to help the company’s reputation.

Being objective however, isn’t the role of online security firms to do exactly that: identify and monitor potential security risks?

A statement from a Symantec spokesperson in the BBC story seemed non-committal: “At this point we are assessing the full implications of this technology and how it fits into the established criteria we use for categorising and classifying new technologies such as Phorm’s.”

Similarly, Greg Day, security analyst at McAfee, is reported to have said, “At this point we have not rushed to give it a classification.”
According to Phorm, its relationship with security companies is one of complete cooperation. Radha Burgess, marketing and communications director said, “We are currently in the process of talking with security firms, and taking them through the system in order to evaluate it properly.”

Ultimately, therefore, it appears security firms are avoiding jumping to conclusions, and will continue to monitor and evaluate the system, classifying it as and when they deem necessary.

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