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When they originally conceived Whitehat Security's Aviator Web browser, little did Robert "Rsnake" Hansen and his team know what they were getting into.
First conceived as an internal project to create a more secure browsing option for WhiteHat's own internal users, Hansen's WhiteHat Labs unit released the browser to the public in 2013 so a wide audience could benefit from Aviator's security and privacy features.
However, controversy surrounded Aviator earlier this year when search giant Google, maker of its own competing Chrome browser, lashed out at WhiteHat, citing several security bugs in Aviator and calling the company on the carpet for using a version of the Chromium codebase that didn't include the latest security fixes.
In turn, Hansen fired back at Google, touting the Aviator's many benefits, such as its ability to stop cross-domain referring URLs, as well as its default "private mode" settings.
In retrospect, however, Hansen recognized that both browser makers share a lot of common ground.
"I don't disagree with anything technically that [Google] said," Hansen said. "Our point was never that we could update faster or we had better software security under the hood. What we were saying is if you turn on all the privacy and security features in the [Aviator] browser, you're going to be a lot more safe."
In this interview, conducted at the 2015 RSA Conference, Hansen and executive editor Eric Parizo discuss the Aviator controversy, Google's concerns and how Aviator may threaten its business model, the next chapter for Aviator as an open source project, and lessons learned for other organizations concerned about Web browser security.