Mozilla announced that Firefox 69 on desktop and Android will, by default, empower all users by blocking third-party tracking cookies and cryptominers. Mozilla calls this a major step in their multi-year effort to bring stronger, usable, privacy protections to everyone using Firefox.
For today’s release, Enhanced Tracking Protection will automatically be turned on by default for all users worldwide as part of the ‘Standard’ setting in the Firefox browser and will block known “third-party tracking cookies” according to the Disconnect list.
Mozilla notes that they first enabled this default feature for new users in June of 2019. Mozilla also points out that over 20% of Firefox users have Enhanced Tracking Protection on. With this new release, they expect to provide protection for 100% of their users by default.
Enhanced Tracking Protection, Mozilla explains, works behind-the-scenes to keep a company from forming a profile of you based on their tracking of your browsing behavior across websites – often without your consent or knowledge. Those profiles and information may be sold for purposes that you never knew or intended.
How can you tell when Enhanced Tracking Protection is working? It is working when you visit a site and see a shield icon in the address bar.
In addition, Firefox 69 will protect users from cryptominers, who attempt to access the CPU of other people’s computers in order to generate cryptocurrency for themselves. The option to block cryptominers is included in the ‘Standard Mode’ of the Content Blocking preferences in Firefox 69.
I love when companies make an effort to protect the privacy of their users. It is a rare thing in today’s world, were so many websites and corporations feel that they are entitled to harvest as much data as they can grab. It is also good that Mozilla’s Firefox 69 will block cryptominers. It is wrong (and incredibly selfish) to sneakily access someone else’s computer for the purpose of cryptomining.
Three big browser makers are now blocking the use of a root certificate that Kazakhstan’s government had used to intercept internet traffic. According to Ars Technica, Khazakhstan reportedly said it halted the use of the certificate. Ars Technica reported that the actions taken by Google, Mozilla, and Apple could protect users who already installed it or prevent future use of the certificate by Kazakstan’s government.
Apple told Ars Technica that it is blocking the ability to use the certificate to intercept internet traffic.
Mozilla posted on The Mozilla Blog “Today, Mozilla and Google took action to protect the online security and privacy of individuals in Kazakhstan. Together, the companies deployed technical solutions within Firefox and Chrome to block the Kazakhstan government’s ability to intercept internet traffic within the country.”
The response comes after credible reports that internet service providers in Kazakhstan have required people in the country to download and install a government-issued certificate on all devices and in every browser in order to access the internet. This certificate is not trusted by either of the companies, and once installed, allowed the government to decrypt and read anything a user types or posts, including intercepting their account information and passwords. This targeted people visiting popular sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google, among others.
Google posted information on its Google Security Blog. Part of that blog post says: “In response to recent actions by the Kazakhstan government, Chrome, along with other browsers, has taken steps to protect users from the interception or modification of TLS connections made to websites.”
It continues: “Chrome will be blocking the certificate the Kazakhstan government required users to install. The blog post has more specific details about that certificate.
It is good that these companies, all of whom make browsers, are taking a stand against government intrusion into people’s privacy. I hope that these companies will take the same action whenever another government chooses to spy on its own people in an effort to sneakily discover what those people do online.
Mozilla has created the Facebook Container Extension It functions similarly to Mozilla’s Multi-Account Containers. The Facebook Container Extension was designed specifically to help Firefox users have more control of their data on Facebook.
The Facebook Container Extension helps people who are using Firefox to control more of their web activity from Facebook by isolating your identity into a separate container. Mozilla says this makes it harder for Facebook to track your activity on other websites via third-party cookies.
Rather than stop using a service you find valuable and miss out on those adorable photos of your nephew, we think you should have tools to limit what data others can collect about you. That includes us: Mozilla does not collect data from your use of the Facebook Container extension. We only know the number of times the extension is installed or removed.
When you install the Facebook Container Extension, it will delete your Facebook cookies and log you out of Facebook. The next time you visit Facebook, it will open in a new blue-colored browser (the “container tab). In that tab, you can login and use Facebook as you normally would. If you click on a non-Facebook link, it will load outside of the container.
I think this is a useful tool for people who value their privacy but do not want to stop using Facebook. It can be difficult to quit using Facebook if it is the most reliable way to contact members of your family.
It should be noted that the Facebook Container Extension is for Firefox. It won’t work on other browsers. The Mozilla blog points out that if you click on any Facebook Share buttons or other browser tabs it will load within the Facebook container. When you use those buttons, information will be sent to Facebook about the website that you shared from.
For a year now we have known that Mozilla was developing its own mobile operating system. There has even been a preview version you could run with the Firefox web browser and developer handsets available, though these sold out very quickly.
Now the launch is at hand, as the first handset will be going on sale through Telefonica in Spain. “Mozilla, the mission-based organization dedicated to keeping the power of the Web in people’s hands, today announced that the regional launches of Firefox OS smartphones will begin soon. Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica will release the first Firefox OS devices, the ALCATEL ONE TOUCH Fire and the ZTE Open, soon. Individual partners will announce specifics about launches in each market soon” says Mozilla.
Mozilla boasts that Firefox OS smartphones are the first devices powered completely by Web technologies. The handsets will have the basic — calls, messaging, email, camera. There are also things you wish a smartphone offered. Firefox OS also includes built-in social features with Facebook and Twitter, HERE Maps with offline capabilities and smart walking, driving and public transit directions, much-loved features like the Firefox Web browser, a new ability to discover one-time use and downloadable apps, Firefox Marketplace and much more.
Other markets will be coming soon, as Mozilla boasts of more than 20 hardware and operator partners around the world, the organization hopes to fill a niche market with low-priced smartphones.
Mozilla may be suffering a bit lately thanks to the growth of the Chrome web browser, but they are still a popular choice for many computer users. They have also begun updating the browser at a much faster pace in order to keep pace with the competition. Those frequent updates don’t always result in cool new features, but the release today of the version 18 beta does bring some welcome new features.
Whenever a company updates their software I always tend to go first to the changelog so I can find out exactly what I am looking for. In this case I was surprised to find a couple of nice updates.
- CHANGED: Performance improvements around tab switching.
- DEVELOPER: CSS3 Flexbox implemented.
- DEVELOPER: Support for new DOM property window.devicePixelRatio.
- DEVELOPER: Support for @supports added.
- DEVELOPER: Improvement in startup time through smart handling of signed extension certificates.
- HTML5: Support for W3C touch events impemented, taking the place of MozTouch events.
- FIXED: Disable insecure content loading on HTTPS pages (62178).
- FIXED: Improved responsiveness for users on proxies (769764).
If you are already using the beta version of Firefox then you should receive this update automatically. If not, then head over to the Mozilla Beta Channel to make the switch. The final version will be released in January.
Yesterday Mozilla took the unprecedented step of pulling down a version of Firefox and warning those who had already installed it to stop using the browser. The move came after a rather bad security flaw was found in the software that would allow a malicious site to potentially be able to determine which websites users had visited and obtain access to the URL or URL parameters.
The company quickly pushed a fix for the Android version of the web browser, but took until today to issue a similar patch for the Windows version of Firefox. Mozilla has now made Firefox version 16.01 available for download and those who have the browser installed should receive an automatic update upon the next launch.
While it was perhaps a bit of an embarrassing escapade, the company did work fast to fix the issue. The flaw was less of an actual security threat and more of a privacy concern, but it was an issue that still needed to be addressed quickly. You can head over to Mozilla to grab the update if you didn’t receive it automatically.
Mozilla has been hard at work on a Firefox operating system that will power mobile devices, mostly of the lower-end variety. The OS has been rumored to be launching first in Brazil in early 2013. Now, hardware maker ZTE is rumored to be the first to get devices on the market, and they are expected very soon.
ZTE has several Android phones on the market currently, and the move to partner with Mozilla came as a bit of a surprise. “We are trying to increase our efforts in coming up with our own operating system, while introducing products based on Android,” said ZTE spokesman David Dai Shu.”It’s all part of our wider plans to create a better balance of products using various operating systems. We won’t just rely on Android or Windows.”
With Android and iOS leading the market, and Windows Phone slowly making up ground, it will be extremely tough for Mozilla get any foothold, especially given that they are several months away from launch. However, their attempt to aim at the low end of the market, potentially picking up those who currently use feature phones, may find a niche.