Windows security software vendor Comodo has added its contribution to the short list of Chromium-based browser remixes that have sprung up in the wake of Google Chrome's success. Best known for its firewall software, Comodo's Chromium browser is called Dragon, and it promises better security features than those available in Google Chrome. It is the first browser released by a security software company.
Previously only available in beta test form from the Comodo forums, Dragon introduces one new feature not in Chromium and strips out all of the Google-based innovations. Comodo Dragon has a stricter policy on Web site certification than other browsers, and it will throw up a yellow warning page, if a user tries to access a Web site with an unvalidated certificate. Users can see this on the Facebook log-in page, for example. You can still click through with the "proceed anyway" button, but it's interesting to see major sites with poor certification get called out.
Facebook.com is a trustworthy Web site, but Comodo CEO Melih Abdulhayoglu sees it differently. "My goal is to secure end users. And if that means I need to put a message saying that this site is unprotected because [it doesn't have] a validated certificate...then I will." Abdulhayoglu added that cost shouldn't be an issue for Web site certification because an unvalidated certificate "costs the same" as a validated one.
Dragon is based on Chromium version 3, so it supports themes but not extensions. Abdulhayoglu said he expects Dragon to update to Chromium version 4 before the end of March. There are plans, he said, to introduce more security-based features, including banking Web site support and a remote-access collaborative feature that allows two people at different computers to share the browser.
Besides missing extensions, Dragon lacks bookmark sync, automatic translation, and all the other Google features. It also lacks the reporting feature, which was a major concern for many users when Google Chrome debuted. Although you can uncheck the anonymous reporting in Chrome's Options pane, some users have found this unsatisfactory.
In a statement it e-mailed on Friday, Comodo touted this lack of reporting as beneficial because it prevents attackers from finding vulnerabilities in the software error-compiling mechanism. It's entirely unclear at this point, though, how big of a vulnerability the remote-reporting compiler has posed.
After using Dragon for a few hours, it's not clear that many users will find it superior to Chrome at the moment. Too many features are missing, and although Comodo claims on its Dragon launch page that it's "very easy to switch from your browser to the Dragon," you can't import settings from Chrome, only from Opera, Internet Explorer, or Firefox.
Right now, Dragon is little more than a curiosity, except for the excessively paranoid, but if it is able to gain back some of the features it lost through extensions and introduce better security features on its own, it might be able to hold its own as a niche browser.