5 Firefox Security Settings for Safety

Firefox Security Settings for Safety

It’s time for Halloween in the U.S. and people have scary things on their mind. There are scary things on the Internet as well, but Firefox doesn’t want you to get “tricked.” For a Halloween “treat” instead, here’s an overview of some of the security settings you’ll find in Firefox.

For PC users, go to your Firefox Menu and select Options > Options. In that menu, click on the Security tab (with the lock icon). Here are some of the settings you can chose to increase (or decrease) your security on Firefox and how they can protect you:

Firefox Security Settings for Safety

  • Warn me when sites try to install add-ons: Firefox will always ask you to confirm installations of add-ons (those little pieces of software that enhance your Firefox experience — a full list found here). To prevent unrequested installation prompts, Firefox warns you when a website tries to install an add-on and blocks it. You can add exceptions to this rule for sites you trust — just click Exceptions, enter the site name and click Allow.
  • Block reported attack sites: Check this if you want Firefox to check whether the site you are visiting may be an attempt to interfere with normal computer functions or send personal data about you to unauthorized parties over the Internet (note that the absence of a warning does not guarantee that a site is trustworthy).
  • Block reported Web forgeries: Check this if you want Firefox to actively check whether the site you are visiting may be an attempt to mislead you into providing personal information (this is often referred to as phishing). (Note that the absence of a warning does not guarantee that a site is trustworthy. For more information, see How the phishing and malware protection in Firefox works.)
  • Remember passwords for sites: Firefox can securely save passwords you enter in Web forms to make it easier to log in to websites. Clear this checkbox to prevent Firefox from remembering your passwords (for example, if you’re on a public computer). Even with this checked, however, you’ll still be asked whether to save passwords for a site when you first visit it. If you select Never for This Site, that site will be added to an exceptions list. Use Exceptions to access that list.
  • Use a master password: Firefox can protect sensitive information such as saved passwords and certificates by encrypting them using a master password. If you create a master password, each time you start Firefox it will ask you to enter the password the first time it needs to access a certificate or stored password. You can set, change or remove the master password by checking or unchecking this preference or by clicking the Change Master Password… button. If a master password is already set, you will need to enter it in order to change or remove the master password.

And that’s just what’s available in the Firefox Security Settings menu. Firefox is all about defending your Internet privacy and security with features like Private Browsing  and Do Not Track,  among others. Read the blog post on 6 ways to stay secure on Firefox or read this for a comprehensive list of Firefox Security features and stay safe online!

Article published on mozilla.org

Mozilla Firefox 7 Final

Logo Firefox
Logo Firefox

Reviewing the mozilla ftp servers, I found the final version of firefox 7, in this version is reduced by up to 60% memory consumption, being that the navigation is smooth. This version also brings improved performance as Direct2D Azure, in which the HTML5 work better, improved synchronization service, Firefox Sync, which also accelerates the process of uploading passwords and bookmarks to the cloud and the spread of these to other instances we have installed.

His official departure date is 27 September.

You can download Mozilla Firefox 7.0 Final in Spanish from the following links:

-> Download Firefox Windows

-> Download Firefox Mac OS X

-> Download Firefox Linux

New Firefox Design

Firefox Australis

The Firefox UX development team recently posted a presentation showing off some of the latest design and UI (user interface) improvements for the popular Firefox web browser by Mozilla. While not all of the design choices shown in the presentation will make it into the Aurora or other beta builds, they do indicate that Mozilla is at least considering mixing up their traditional interface for upcoming releases. The image below is one of the screenshots included in the presnetation, and at first glance it may be mistaken for Google’s Chrome browser. However, upon closer inspection it becomes clear that Mozilla have not simply copied Chrome’s minimalist design but they have gone with a similar tab design, continued with the transparency that is already present in certain builds and sprinkled some Mozilla flair on top to create one possible look for a future Firefox browser.

Firefox Australis

Some other proposed changes of the design include a new menu that is icon based versus word lists and is located on the right side of the window as well as an improved full screen experience that seeks to give web apps the screen real estate they need. A new home tab and add-on manager interface are also proposed changes. As shown in the screenshot above, tabs that are not in focus, have their backgrounds become fully transparent so that only the text is visible. This definitely helps the main tab stand out and may help in reducing the amount of distraction users face when having multiple tabs open.

Firefox Australis

While these are only proposed changes, it is apparent that Mozilla are planning some kind of major UI overhaul if they can get the users to accept it, and the next major release may well see a slightly more chrome-esque appearance with that special Firefox flair. What are your thoughts on the proposed designs, do they seem likely? If you are still using Firefox, what features of other browsers would you like to see Firefox emulate?

Source: mozilla.org

The best and the novelty of Firefox 4

The newer version of Firefox from Mozilla is definitely better than Firefox 3.6 and is definitely worth trying out. Firefox 4 runs on the Gecko 2.0 web platform. Earlier today I downloaded Firefox 4 and put it through some drills, here is a review of Firefox 4 Beta 1 where you can find the new features and also the how Firefox 4 fares against other browsers in web browser benchmarks.

New User Interface

firefox 4 screenshot
firefox 4 screenshot

Firefox 4 sports a completely different interface, some of which are from Opera and Google Chrome. Firefox 4 has some new buttons and also a unified menu which is similar to the one Opera 10.6 has. In addition to that the tabs also default to the top which is similar to Google Chrome.

However, the menu bar is initially hidden and users can unhide it to go back to the older navigation found in Firefox 3.6 and below.

firefox 4 bookmarks
firefox 4 bookmarks

New Add-ons Manager

firefox 4 Add-ons Manager
firefox 4 Add-ons Manager

Firefox 4 sports a new add-ons manager which integrates into the browser. However, the interface is still under construction and you cannot use the add-ons manager to browse and install add-ons yet. However, it is definitely much better than the earlier version and also has some new developer tools.

Mozilla also says that the add-ons manager UI will be changed before the final release, so don’t start falling in love with it yet.

Search and Switch to Open Tabs

screen switch to tab
screen switch to tab

Firefox 4 also has a hidden gem in the smart location bar, which will allow you to switch to an open URL by typing in the URL or searching for the title of the page. The feature is very handy if you have several open tabs and want to switch to it without navigating through all the tabs.

When you want to switch to an open tab, just start typing the URL or the title of the page and you will be shown an option to Switch to that open tab. Pretty neat.

Windows 7 Integration

firefox 4 windows 7 integration
firefox 4 windows 7 integration

Firefox 4 tightly integrates into Windows 7 by having tab previews and Jumplists. Using the tab previews you can easily preview all open tabs. In addition to that the jumplists allows you to quickly perform tasks and open frequently opened URLs.

Native HTML5 WebM Videos Support

Firefox 4 has native support for HTML5 WebM videos. WebM is an open source royalty free codec for HTML5 videos which is an alternative to H.264 and Theora codes (Learn more about WebM). In my tests HTML5 videos works pretty good on YouTube.

Speed and Other Benchmarks

firefox 4 peacekeeper benchmark
firefox 4 peacekeeper benchmark

Firefox 4 is definitely much more lighter and faster than Firefox 3.6 and it uses much less memory than the earlier versions. However, Firefox 4 is not yet the fastest browser and it was beaten by both Google Chrome 6 (dev) and Opera 10.60 in the Peacekeeper benchmarks I ran.

Firefox also failed the Acid 3 test, but the results were far better than Firefox 3.6. This shows a lot of improvements being done under the hood. Firefox 4 was also slower than in the SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark  and way too slow in the V8 benchmarks I ran (screenshots coming shortly).

Other Features

Firefox 4 also has Crash protection for Flash, QuickTime and other plugins, however, this was introduced in Firefox 3.6. Firefox 4 also has a HTML5 parser which allows you to run the latest apps, support for WebSockets for real-time online interactions like chatting and gaming and IndexedDB which will allow users to use offline storage.

If you have not yet downloaded Firefox 4 Beta 1, you can do it from here or visit this blog post on Mozilla to find out all the latest features available in Firefox 4.

Mozilla Seabird – New Concept in mobile devices

seabird - from mozilla labs

seabird - from mozilla labs

The Mozilla Seabird, part of the Mozilla Labs’ Concept Series, is an experiment in how users might interact with their mobile content as devices and technology advances. Drawing on insights culled from the Mozilla community through the project’s blog, a focus quickly developed around frustrating physical interactions. While mobile CPUs, connectivity and development platforms begin approaching that of desktops, the lagging ability to efficiently input information has grown ever more pronounced.

Interaction

The Seabird, then, introduces a few possibilities into how user interaction might evolve with the advancing motion capture and projector driven innovation in the market. First out, the Seabird imagines how a multiple use dongle might augment the crowded gestural interface with greater precision and direct manipulation of content in 3D space

seabird - from mozilla labs

3D version available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvxKGDDCZrk.

Thunderbird 3 – Review

Thunderbird 3 Messages Summary View

It is important to know what’s new in Thunderbird 3 before giving it a try. You launch it up and proclaim, “Huh! There seems to be nothing new”. This is exactly what this post is about, showing you 14 new features in Thunderbird 3 that you can’t seem to find otherwise.

Tabbed Interface

thunderbird 3 tabbed interfaceIt is one feature Mozilla knows how to implement. They were the first to implement it in Firefox(alright Opera was the first one, but what I meant here was that tabbed browsing of Firefox is better than Opera’s, atleast IMO) and the rest is history. Now the tabbed interface has arrived in Thunderbird 3 as well, allowing users to open multiple folders, emails, and search results with ease. When you quit Thunderbird, all tabs are saved and then restored the next time you open Thunderbird. The quickest way to open messages or folders in a new tab is to Middle-click them.

New Global Search With Advanced Filtering Tools

Thunderbird global searchThunderbird 3 has dramatically improved the Global Search(with autocomplete feature), making it one of the best search feature I have ever seen in an email client. The improved Global Search is both quick, and simple. Once you enter a keyword and hit Enter, it will open the search result in a new tab.

You can filter out the emails from the left sidebar, they can be filtered by emails send by you, send to you, starred, or those which include attachments. Click any person and you will be able to filter out the emails send/received by/from that person.

You can also filter the emails by timeline, it is located on top and can be enabled by clicking the small timeline button on the upper-right corner. It also gives a better visualization on the emails send/received over time.

Thunderbird 3 Search

New Mail Account Setup Wizard

Thunderbird 3 mail account setup This is the first thing you are going to observe when setting up an account in Thunderbird 3. Instead of having to manually enter the settings, it will match against the database of email settings from popular email providers, thus, you only need to provide the name, email, and password. If IMAP support is enabled in Gmail settings, Thunderbird will automatically set it up for you

Redesigned Mail Toolbar

Redesigned Mail Toolbar

The mail toolbar on top has been redesigned, it now includes the Global search bar while the buttons such as Reply, Forward, Archive, Junk, and Delete are now part of each email. You can always add them back by customizing the toolbar.

Smart Folders

The folder pane on the left sidebar now offers Smart Folders which is enabled by default. So what is Smart Folders? This mode allows users to combine special mailboxes, such as, Inbox, from multiple accounts.

Messages Summary View

This feature is a dream come true for many users. Now when you select multiple email messages, Thunderbird 3 will show you the summary in the Preview pane along with the amount of space these messages are taking up. If you selected 2 email messages from the same person, they will be merged into one and the number of messages will be shown in the brackets next to it. Beat that, Outlook?

Thunderbird 3 Messages Summary View

Message Archiving

With improved IMAP support comes improved Synchronization. Thunderbird 3 now supports email message archiving, meaning that you can now file any message in Inbox into the new Archive folder system. If you archive an email message from Inbox, it will be added to the All Mail folder just like it happens in Gmail.

Improved Gmail Integration

Thunderbird Archive folderThunderbird now recognizes and integrates Gmail’s special folders, such as, Sent and Trash, including non-English versions of Gmail. As I mentioned above(in Message Archive), Thunderbird now uses All Mail as Archives folder for Gmail.

Activity Manager

Every interaction that happens between Thunderbird and the email server is logged in one place, Activity Manager. It can be accessed by going to Tools > Activity Manager.

Thunderbird Activity Manager

Improved Address Book

The address book has been improved dramatically. If someone is in your address book, it is indicated by a new star icon which upon clicking will allow you to edit the contact details inline. And if they are not in your address book, one click on the icon and you can add them. There is now a new option to enter the birthday and photo of the contact.

Thunderbird Address Book

New Add-on Manager

The new add-on manager is very different from the point of functionality. Now you can find, download, and install add-ons(extensions, themes, and plugins) without having to use the web browser. It can be launched from Tools > Add-ons.

thunderbird 3 addons manager

Message Threads

I am not sure about this feature(perhaps it is included in Thunderbird 2.x too), but it was discovered accidentally. You can display message threads which allow better visibility of the email messages, also it can be a great way to quickly check for a specific message in the email conversation. First select an email message, then hit the small Message Threads icon on the upper-left corner. You can also sort Emails by Star or Attachments.

thunderbird 3 message threads

Integration With Windows Search (Windows 7/Vista)

On first start, Thunderbird will prompt you to install the indexing system in Windows 7/Vista. This will help index all emails in Windows Search and allow users to see emails and new messages in Windows search results.

Improvements For Mac

Some improvements have been made to the Mac version of Thunderbird client. It is now integrated with Spotlight, can import Mail.app, read Mac OS X address book, and can use Growl for new email alerts.

Google Wave Integration

Google Wave & Thunderbird 3
Google Wave & Thunderbird 3

See : Run Google Wave Inside Thunderbird 3 ( lifehacker)

The Open Source

The traditional business model for companies is to create a product and/or provide a service to customers in order to receive payment and hopefully exceed operational costs to generate a profit. However, what happens when you are not creating a product or service, but instead ideas? How do you make a profit? How can you differentiate yourself from the competition when your product is perceived as a commodity? This is a common dilemma for companies that engage in Open Source design, development or distribution. As defined by the Open Source Initiative, open source is “a development method for software that harnesses the power of distributed peer review and transparency of process. The promise of open source is better quality, higher reliability, more flexibility, lower cost, and an end to predatory vendor lock-in.” The benefits for open source are compelling and the idea of creating a community of the brightest minds to create something new is inspiring. This idea of sharing your creative wealth to accomplish great things is something the Creative Commons embraces.

The inherent drama of open source is that it’s the collaboration of peers orchestrated in transparent manner, so competitors can easily observe all of your ideas and replicate. Most economists would argue that open source is not a sustainable business model; there are no tangible “widgets” or returns.

There are also skeptics within in the open source community that claim the open source business model is broken because value is in the collaboration, not in open source itself. However, the true return comes in an intangible form – your brand.

Case Study: Open Source Hardware

In a Wired article titled “Build It. Share It. Profit. Can Open Source Hardware Work?” Clive Thompson writes about a computer hardware company called Arduino. All of their schematics, design files and software for the Arduino board are open source, so anyone can download them to use or modify and manufacture their own boards – and even sell if they want. Arduino’s open source hardware has been used in everything from DIY MP3 players to mobile phone charges to humidity/temperature monitors for art museums. If Arduino utilizes an open source business model in which they essentially give intellectual property away, how do they make a profit? This is where I find this case study very interesting; it’s all about the brand. As Thompson explains, there are two economic models for open source:

  1. Do not sell your product (i.e. hardware or software), but instead sell your expertise as the inventor
  2. Sell your product, but try to keep ahead of the competition

The Arduino team doesn’t receive a profit when they actually develop boards; it’s usually rolled back into the next production cycle. However, they do receive a “profit” when they act as consultants to companies using their open source hardware. Since the hardware is open source, the open source community collaborates to improve the hardware, so they essentially have free labor. And because Arduino is the creator of this hardware, they are at the epicenter of the community and learn about advancements before anyone, so they are the first one to the fight every time.

To analyze Arduino from a business model perspective, expertise is the service provided to customers. Further, operational costs are minimal, so a profitable return is likely. However, while their competitive advantages are notable, the differentiating factor is their brand – a value proposition providing dependability as a benefit to customers. This is due to their success and expertise as pioneers and leaders in the open source hardware community.

Case Study: Open Source Desktop Operating Systems

Open source technology is most notable in desktop and mobile operating systems, specifically Linux and Google Android respectively. Linux is a free Unix-type operating system originally created by Linus Torvalds with the assistance of the open source community. Developed under the GNU General Public License, the source code for Linux is freely available to everyone. Around the world, Linux has great brand recognition with developers, however little to none with consumers. This is likely due to the fact that Linux is used primarily in servers and computer hardware, which is not typically consumer facing. Also, historically the use of Linux in desktop and laptop computers has been quite low. Further, due to the lack of a strategic marketing plan, consumers are not aware of the Linux brand. However, due to the recent Ubuntu distribution and emergence and popularity of netbooks, the market share of Linux is growing. Currently, the market share for desktop operating systems is as follows:

  • Microsoft Windows: 87.90%
  • MAC: 9.73%
  • Linux: 1.02%
  • Apple iPhone: 0.55%
  • Apple iPod Touch: 0.15%
  • Java ME: 0.07%
  • Other: 0.32%

Ubuntu is leveraging the Linux brand and open source technology to create its own product (operating system) and brand (Ubuntu). This is somewhat similar to the co-branding efforts of Intel with many PC brands, but without the licensing fees. While Linux is gaining brand awareness due to the Ubuntu distribution, it is not actively promoting its own brand. Linux is taking an open source approach to branding itself – allowing other brands to help define its brand identity and image. I’m curious to see how this will affect the brand in the future. I would hypothesize that it will only augment the brand’s image and further the popularity of open source. Currently, Linux is not following either of the two economic models presented earlier, however I wouldn’t be surprised to see Linux start selling its expertise more as its market share continues to grow.

Case Study: Open Source Mobile Operating Systems

When Google’s Android mobile operating system was released, specifically in the T-Mobile G1, many thought that this would be a strong competitive force against the Apple iPhone. However, this is an example of an open source initiative that resulted in negative outcomes and poor branding. According to a ReadWriteWeb article titled “Android Vulnerability So Dangerous, Owners Warned Not to Use Phone’s Web Browser,” written by Sarah Perez, in February 2009 a security researcher presented a new vulnerability in Google’s Android mobile OS that allowed hackers to remotely take control of the phone’s web browser and related processes. Hackers could gain access to saved credentials in the browser and browser history. It was recommended that Android users “avoid using the browser until a patch is released. If this is not possible, only visit trusted sites and only over the T-Mobile network (avoid WiFi). This issue with security was the main reason I took the G1 and all smartphones with the Android OS off my consideration list. This infiltration damaged the Google Android brand. This can be a problem with any open source technology because many people have access to the source code. However, this really isn’t any different than a hacker can reverse engineering any product to bypass security – it’s just that open source makes it more convenient. Either way, security systems must be built in to restrict vulnerability. Then Google experienced a problem with branding. According to a TechCrunch article titled “Should Google Be Paranoid About Losing The Android Name?” written by MG Siegler, a person applied for and was granted a trademark to the Android name back in 2002. Google tried to trademark the name in 2007 after the Android campaign, however it was rejected. Google tried again but was repeatedly denied and its trademark application was suspended. So any equity that Google may have built with the Android brand may be gone because they will need to completely rebrand their open source mobile operating system. Which may work to their advantage, so that they can redefine the brand and move on from all the security problems. Hopefully, Google Android will redeem the brand with the new Samsung Android smartphone out later this year and with the enhancements to the G1.

Case Study: Open Source Web Browsers

Mozilla was the first open source initiative that I ever heard about. The Mozilla Foundation began in 1998 to “create world-class open source software” and they did just that. They supported the open source community by embracing the pillars of open source: Openness, Innovation and Participation. Then in 2002, Mozilla released their first web browser, Mozilla 1.1. However, at this time Microsoft Internet Explorer had over 90% of the market share for internet browsers. Mozilla had their work cut out for them. However, in 2003, Mozilla created Firefox a world-class tool to experience the internet and began to experience tremendous growth.

The tipping point, however, was their grassroots approach to branding. Similar to the manner in which Firefox was created, Mozilla turned the marketing and advertising efforts over to its supporters by launching a campaign called “Spread Firefox.” This website became the community hall for the discussion of marketing and advertising strategies. Among many things, supporters were encouraged to place “Get Firefox” buttons on their websites and blogs to help promote Firefox. Each participant would be rewarded referrer points as an incentive to be included among the top 250 referrers, a list that would be featured on the Spread Firefox website. Mozilla’s community marketing guide includes categories such as:

  • Organizing and Attending Events
  • Public Speaking
  • Blogging, Tagging and Social Networking
  • Advertising Mozilla
  • Making T-Shirts and Other Items
  • Guerrilla Marketing Activities
  • Collecting Testimonials
  • Distributing Software
  • Promoting the Mozilla Mission
  • Collecting Press Clippings
  • Speaking to the Press
  • Requesting Sponsorship for a Project
  • Reporting Disreputable Behavior

The last category is very interesting, not only did Mozilla ask supports to help promote the product, but also police online activity and warn Mozilla of harmful behavior to their reputation. Even while Mozilla embraced the pillars of open source (openness, innovation and participation), they managed to control the message as well. From a branding perspective, this is something Mozilla has been relentless at. The name “Mozilla Firefox” is a registered trademark and along with the official Firefox logo, it may only be used when specific terms and conditions are followed. While the code for the Firefox browser is open source, there are usage restrictions placed on the code. If derivative works from the code are created, the browser must be rebranded – the new browser cannot leverage the brand name or logo. The strategic rationale is that Mozilla wants to guarantee a consistent user experience for anyone using the Mozilla Firefox web browser. This is something every brand hopes for. There has been some controversy over this, however this is also the reason why Mozilla Firefox has been so successful. Currently, Firefox is the #2 web browser on the market, with market share just over 20%. Below is the current market share for web browsers:

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer: 66.10%
  • Mozilla Firefox: 22.48%
  • Apple Safari: 8.21%
  • Google Chrome: 1.42%
  • Opera: 0.68%
  • Other: 1.11%

This isn’t bad for a non-profit organization, especially when its competition is Microsoft, Apple and Google. A true branding effort that produced results. Mozilla even holds a Guinness World Record for the most software downloaded in 24 hours. To analyze Mozilla from a non-profit business model perspective, they are fulfilling their mission statement: To make the internet better for everyone by embracing openness, innovation and opportunity.

Case Study: Open Source Politics

President Barack Obama’s election campaign was seamless, engaging and effective. And he now continues this sound strategy during his presidency. At 12:01 p.m. on Tuesday, January 20th, just one minute after Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States, www.whitehouse.gov was rebranded and the first entry to the White House blog was created: “Change has come to WhiteHouse.gov

Macon Phillips, the Director of New Media for the White House, explained that like our new government, WhiteHouse.gov and the rest of the Administration’s online programs will put citizens first. And that the initial new media efforts would center around three priorities:

  1. Communication
  2. Transparency
  3. Participation

It’s interesting to note, that these three priorities reflect the philosophical pillars of open source and Creative Commons. Further, at the time I am writing these words, it’s exactly 100 days after President Obama was sworn in. So it seems to be the perfect time to evaluate these priorities.

  1. Communication: Constant communication via an array of channels – the Administration has reached out to citizens online, TV, press, etc.
  2. Transparency: The activity on WhiteHouse.gov alone showcases the level of transparency. However, an interesting example of transparency is the creation of Recovery.gov, which was built on the Drupal platform – an open source platform with a reputation of innovation, stability and malleability. Further, the use of open source is significant because security is an obvious concern for the government. Lastly, due to the community surrounding this open source platform, as developers improve functionality, everyone will benefit.
  3. Participation: President Obama engaged with America and asked them to participate in their government with an initiative called “Open For Questions.” Obama asked people to participate in the community-moderated online town hall by submitting questions about the economy utilizing similar voting functionality as Digg.com

Obama’s brand was clearly defined before he became President, however on the day he entered the oval office not only did he rebrand WhiteHouse.gov, but he also rebranded what it meant to be President of United States of America. President Obama set the precedent for all future presidents: A transparent process that engages American citizens. And once you start the conversation, you cannot leave it. Future Presidents will be expected to work in a similar manner. Lastly, as the Administration integrates more technology (i.e. open source development) the methods and levels of engagement will advance and deepen respectively. Citizens will take an active role in government and expect that their involvement will make a difference. Similar to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his fireside chats, Obama changed the way the President communicates with Americans. Whether you support Obama or not, the brand Obama has established thus far, is the differentiating factor between him and other presidents – Optimisim, Change, Transperancy and Community. It’s also essential that you live up to your brand promises, otherwise your brand image will deteriorate. So, there is still a lot of work to be done. My only issue with the presidency campaign thus far are the multiple number of websites: WhiteHouse.gov, Recovery.gov, HealthReform.gov, FinancialStability.gov, etc. Multiple destinations for the User can become confusing.