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9 Evil Tactics Used by 360 Safe Browser to Beat IE in China

Steven Millward
Steven Millward
1:00 pm on Jan 12, 2012

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has been wanting people in China to quit using Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) for quite some time – but it didn’t want things to pan out like this. Now a rival web browser, made by Qihoo (NYSE:QIHU) and called the 360 Safe Browser, has far surpassed the market share of IE as a whole, and is now reportedly used for 57 percent of all web surfing in the country.

But New York-based Digital Due Diligence (DDD) has evidence which suggests that Qihoo has used some seriously evil tactics to rope in users to its 360 Safe Browser. And it believes that these Machiavellian maneuvers – a total of nine are identified – have helped it to prevail in such a short time – just three years.

Firstly, it’s worth pointing out that Qihoo’s main business is, supposedly, anti-virus software. But with most of those anti-virus products being free, Qihoo generates nearly all of its revenue from its links portal hao.360.cn and general ad clicks. It’s an area that has provoked attacks by the short-sellers Citron who say that such old-fashioned links sites are unsustainable. But, on the contrary, Qihoo seems to be doing well out of it, serving as a sort of AOL to inexperienced web users at a time when millions of Chinese people get online for the first time each day.

And so its 360 Safe Browser is an integral part of all that, driving ad clicks on its portal as well as being, in Qihoo’s mentality, an integral part of its anti-virus platform.

But its tactics in forcing the 360 browser upon people are unacceptable, and render it something closer to malware or spyware. It looks to be exploiting the country’s not-too-savvy web users, infringing on their privacy, and even hijacking their choice of browsers. Here’s the list that DDD compiled explaining how Qihoo’s browser rose to the top:

  1. An almost identical icon to IE except that it’s green (pictured above).

  2. In the setup process, asking users to make it the default browser for links in other apps, such as in IMs.

  3. Using its 360 Anti-Virus product to fire up pop-ups reminding people that the 360 browser is safer than IE.

  4. Yet more pop-ups pestering people to set 360 Safe Browser as their default.

  5. Using 360 Anti-Virus to block other browsers from becoming default, as pictured here blocking the Sohu-made Sogou Explorer:

  6. 360 Anti-Virus scans give lower scores to users who don’t have the 360 browser installed, and then recommends that they install it.

  7. Installing the 360 browser covertly in some anti-virus software bundles. Since most people just click ‘next’ during the set-up process, it gets foisted upon unwary people.

  8. 360 Safe Browser is deliberately difficult and confusing to uninstall. The ‘Change to IE9’ option in the uninstall dialog box actually just reinstalls the 360 browser and makes it the default. That’s some super-sized shysterism.

  9. After uninstallation, there are instances of some users finding it hard to get on the internet again and finding that their web settings have been changed.

It wouldn’t surprise me to see Qihoo following the lead of Tencent (HKG:0700) and Sohu (NASDAQ:SOHU) in launching its own search engine, and tying its 360 browser to that as well. It’s something those other two are doing already.

And so it looks like web standards – as well as ethics and basic respect for users – are still distant concepts on the web scene among some major tech firms in China.

Hit the source link below for all the nine screenshots that provide proof of those malicious tactics.

[Source: Digital Due Diligence]

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Have Your Say
  • Guest

    China’s older computer users mostly do not understand computers, it is easy to be deceived by Qihoo 360.

  • jake

    Do you work for microsoft? I would call what they did to force everyone onto Explorer just as dirty. Does anyone remember NetScape? Your a microsoft shill.

  • freerange

    @ jake – you’re an idiot. This is far worse than anything MSFT has ever done, although they certainly are scumbags for what they did with IE. Your calling people shills does not change that fact. This company should be taken completely down, as they would in any other country.

  • Frank

    year, it may be evil on forcing people using it browser. But the entire 360 safety software including anti-virus, system optimize, software management, sandbox, etc.. is all free. And there is no so-called “premium version” or “pro version” that forcing users to pay.

    • sad@das.com

      Still, id rather install a clean software that you can pay for than falling into this greedy company s hands

  • Julie


    Has anyone found a way to get rid of that 360 completely? I am another victim.

    • http://www.techinasia.com Steven Millward

      @Julie I’m not a Windows user, so I’m not too sure about that. a full Windows OS reinstall might be in order to clean the crap.

  • John Simmons

    That one has to completely re-install an OS in order to get rid of 360 says everything about the product.

  • Syah

    How To remove 360 Chinese?I cant Delete it and unistall because i not understand their language…So can u help me or give some opinion me to remove it tq.

  • Aline

    Por favor, alguém me ajude a desinstalar o 360safe! Por favor, estou com um notebook novo, deixei minha amiga instalar um editor de fotos chamado Xiuxiu e o 360 veio junto, e eu não tenho ideia de como se exclui isso! Estou com medo de perder meu notebook.

    Please someone help me uninstall 360safe! Please, I have a new notebook, I let my friend install a photo editor called Xiuxiu and the 360 ​​came along, and I have no idea how to delete it! I’m afraid of losing my notebook.

  • Canon123

    Anyone who wants to kill this browser from his/her computer, follow the instructions here:
    The link is not virus or something like that, it’s a page from kaspersky labs.
    Hope it helps you. :)

  • IranianCyberArmy

    I like it