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Opera has partnered with Haute Secure in a bid to defend surfers from drive-by download attacks.

Haute Secure's technology will be bundled in Opera 9.5, bolstering the Norwegian firm's existing Fraud Protection technology with software designed to block malware downloads from compromised websites. Opera 9.5, codenamed Kestrel, is due out this summer.

As well as blocking hacker-controlled websites the technology will protect Opera users from harm after clicking on links that lead to malicious script or malware. This type of protection has become more important as changes in hacking tactics have resulted in more frequent incidents of malware appearing on legitimate websites.

AVG acquired Exploit Prevention Labs last December to gets its hands on the latter's Linkscanner technology, which probes links for signs of suspicious content, such as pointers to encrypted JavaScript files, on analysed sites. Both Linkscanner and Haute Secure's technology look at individual pages or links rather than a site as a whole.

Both technologies are designed to guard against drive-by download attacks. Haute Secure's technology is based on a database of known bad sites whereas Linkscanner leans more on real-time analysis.

In related browser security news, Mozilla developers have begun work on a browser plug-in designed to protect against a common range of web application vulnerabilities that feature in drive-by download attacks and other hacking attacks. Site Security Policy (SSP) aims to pull the sting from cross site scripting and cross site request forgery attacks. A beta version of the add-on can be downloaded here.

The SSP plug-in is separate to the development of Firefox 3, which reached the second release candidate milestone last week. ®

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