Comcast Hijacks Mac Firefox Users' Homepage; Offers Blame Game And Faux Apology In Return
from the operators-are-standing-by-to-apologize dept
As an internet user, chances are you’d like to set your own home page. However, if you’re using Comcast’s internet service and Firefox, Comcast won’t let you do it. Krebs on Security reports that Comcast’s Xfinity software (installed by techs with new accounts) actively hijacks user preferences, redirecting them to Comcast’s home page:
The software is unfriendly to Mac users running Firefox: It changes the browser’s homepage to comcast.net, and blocks users from changing it to anything else.
I heard this from a friend who’d just signed up for Comcast’s Xfinity high-speed Internet service and soon discovered some behavior on his Mac that is akin to Windows malware – something had hijacked his Internet settings. The technician who arrived to turn on the service said that a software package from Comcast was necessary to complete the installation. My friend later discovered that his homepage had been changed to comcast.net, and that Comcast software had modified his Firefox profile so that there was no way to change the homepage setting.
Trust me, nothing makes your users happier than the feeling that they no longer control their interaction with the internet. It goes further than that, though. The Xfinity software has also been spotted redirecting searches. This gives new users a chance to enjoy that “new internet smell,” while simultaneously worrying that they’ve picked up some malware right out of the box. Not only that, but this so-called “necessary” software isn’t actually necessary.
While Comcast may be concerned about Xfinity’s inability to play nice with Firefox, this just seems like a bad idea all around. When your software mimics the behavior of malware, you’ve failed. Of course, Comcast wants to make things right, which is why they first blamed it on Mozilla:
I contacted Comcast; they initially blamed the problem on a bug in Firefox. Mozilla denies this, and says it’s Comcast’s doing.
“This is NOT a Firefox bug or issue,” a Mozilla spokesperson wrote in an email. “It is a Comcast method that applies preference changes to Firefox.”
Oh. Snap. Come on, Comcast. Level with us:
Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas acknowledged that the Xfinity software hijacks Firefox’s settings. He said the problem is limited to Mac users, and that permanency of the change was unintentional. He added that the company is in the process of correcting the installation software.
“Customers absolutely should be able to change their preferred homepage anytime,” Douglas said. “We’re obviously apologizing for any inconvenience we’ve caused Mac users.”
Cool story, bro. There are several things I find dubious about this statement (“unintentional?”), but nothing is more shady than the phrase “obviously apologizing.” Either you apologize or you don’t, but stop acting like it’s a foregone conclusion. Unless you’ve got your customer service team calling up affected users and apologizing for the inconvenience and offering a fix, then you’re not “obviously apologizing.” Obvious apologies don’t need to be pointed out, especially in the past tense and even more especially after first laying the blame at the feet of Mozilla.
Not that anyone would expect anything more from Comcast. In fact, they still haven’t offered an official fix, but other presumably pissed off users have already found a workaround. When you leave it to your customers to fix your purposely broken (and “necessary”) software, you’re just further damaging your already in-tatters reputation.