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Skype Toolbar Gets Blacklisted from Firefox
By: wubayou
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    The Skype Toolbar add-on was recently added to Firefox's list of banned add-ons. Mozilla, the developer behind the popular Firefox web browser, announced that it had blacklisted the Skype Toolbar extension for being a repeat offender. The repeat offender label comes after reports that the add-on made page loading lethargic and was also responsible for more than 40,000 crashes in a one-week period. Mozilla announced the official blacklisting in one of its blog posts.

    Skype Toolbar was a Firefox add-on that bundled with Skype, a popular Internet phone calling program.  Users that install Skype on their computers automatically get the add-on downloaded with Firefox. Once installed, the add-on detects phone numbers in web pages. It then converts the phone numbers into clickable links that web surfers can click to call easily via Skype. 

    While Skype Toolbar does add some extra functionality to Firefox for its users, the way in which it detects and converts phone numbers on web pages can drastically slow down content's loading times. As stated, it has also been deemed responsible for over 40,000 crashes, and statistically ranks as one of the top crashers of Firefox version 3.6.13. 

    Those who still wish to use Skype Toolbar can do so, as Mozilla only soft-blocked the add-on. It has been automatically disabled, but users can manually re-enable it after bypassing a warning message.  Although it's currently in soft-blocked status, it could eventually be hard-blocked, deeming it unusable.  Besides the technical reasons, another reason cited by Mozilla for wanting to completely block the add-on is a lack of communication. Mozilla has said it repeatedly tried to contact Skype about the issues with the extension to no avail. Skype finally responded, but refused to comment on why it took so long to address the issue.

    The recent problems with Skype Toolbar are nothing new. Bugzilla, a site that details bugs with the Firefox browser, reported in 2008 that Skype Toolbar broke links to PDF documents, caused the browser to repeatedly reload pages, and also caused the browser to hang. The accusation prompted an investigation by Mozilla, leading the developer to add an older version of the extension to its blacklist, even though Skype vowed to fix the problem.

    Skype hopes to remove its add-on from Mozilla's blacklist by releasing a new version of the toolbar that is bug-free. Skype has been testing the toolbar to ensure that any compatibility issues are fixed, and the company is currently working with Mozilla to make amends. 

    Although the blacklisting of Skype Toolbar is not a first for Mozilla, it is the first time that the browser developer has banned all versions of what is supposedly a legitimate add-on. Many add-ons suspected of being malicious or carrying malware have been blacklisted in the past. It appears, however, that the issue between Skype and Mozilla is one that has some negative history behind it. In a Bugzilla post last month by Kev Needham, a distribution channel manager for Mozilla, stated, “We've had past problems, and I think it's fair to say Skype qualifies as a repeat offender.”

    For more on this topic, visit http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9205861/Firefox_blacklists_repeat_offender_Skype_add_on

    DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.

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