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  1. Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Edge Hacked at Pwn2Own Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Edge were both hacked in the second day of the Pwn2Own hacking contest, and in the case of the Windows 10 browser, researchers came up with a super-complex and clever approach to escape a virtual machine and get inside the host. Amat Cama and Richard Zhu of Fluoroacetate were the first to attempt to break into Mozilla Firefoxusing a JIT Bug and an out-of-bounds write in the Windows kernel. This technique allowed to run code at system level, technically taking over the machine completely after pointing Firefox to a crafted website. The two were received a price of $50,000. Mozilla’s browser was also hacked by Niklas Baumstark, who escaped the sandbox with a mix of a JIT bug and a logic bug. The researcher eventually obtained the same rights as the logged-in user, which could obviously provide full control of the host in the case of an administrator account. Baumstark received $40,000 for his exploit.Microsoft Edge exploitsFluoroacetate also hacked Microsoft Edge with a more complex attack that earned them $130,000. “Starting from within a VMWareWorkstation client, they opened Microsoft Edge and browsed to their specially crafted web page,” Zero Day Initiative explains. “That’s all it took to go from a browser in a virtual machine client to executing code on the underlying hypervisor. They started with a type confusion bug in the Microsoft Edge browser, then used a race condition in the Windows kernel followed by an out-of-bounds write in VMware workstation.” Arthur Gerkis of Exodus Intelligence also managed to exploit Microsoft Edge with a double free bug in the renderer mixed with a logic bug to escape the sandbox. His successful attack against the Windows 10 browser brought him $50,000. The vulnerabilities that the researchers used to break into the two browsers have been reported to Mozilla and Microsoft and they should be patched in the coming updates. Source
  2. Mozilla is working on a new mobile web browser for Android called Firefox Fenix currently; that is the main reason why development for Firefox for Android slowed down in recent months. Fenix is based on Android Components and GeckoView, and in active development at the time of writing. While it is likely that Firefox Fenix will replace Firefox for Android eventually, nothing appears to have been set in stone yet. Note: The following information is based on mockups and development versions of Firefox Fenix. Functionality may change during development. Firefox Fenix's tabbed browsing functionality A core difference between Firefox Fenix and other mobile browsers such as Google Chrome or Firefox for Android, is that Fenix changes tabbed-browsing significantly. All major mobile browsers supported tabbed-browsing. The functionality is more or less identical to how desktop browsers handle tabs. Users may open multiple tabs and open tabs are retained across browsing sessions. Sessions Fenix supports browser tabs just like any other browser but changes tab management across sessions significantly. Firefox Fenix stores open tabs in individual sessions; this happens automatically when the user exits the browser and does not reopen it shortly after exiting the application. Means: the browser starts without open tabs from the last browsing session when the user opens the mobile browser at a later point in time. Firefox Fenix users may save sessions manually at any time next to that. Sessions work differently from browsing sessions of desktop browsers. Fenix handles these sessions individually and gives users access to these tab sessions so that they may reopen sites they visited in the past. The browser's homepage lists the current session and recent sessions opened in the browser. Fenix users may access these at any time from there to reopen sites that were open previously. Fenix users may delete sessions, e.g. when they don't require access to them anymore. Sessions may also be archived for safekeeping. Mozilla plans to integrate session share functionality in Fenix next to that; this open may be used to send information about the current session using Android's Share functionality or linked devices or Firefox Sync. Closing Words Mozilla's idea to change tab management in Firefox Fenix is certainly an interesting one. One benefit that comes out of it is that the browser won't use as much RAM as other browsers on mobile devices since tabs are only kept open during sessions but not across sessions. Will there be an option to restore the classic behavior? We don't know the answer to that. It is certainly possible that some users will dislike the new method. Those who prefer to keep tabs open in the browser may find the new approach less useful as they'd have to reopen tabs frequently. One way around this would be to allow users to lock tabs so that they remain open across sessions. Source: Mozilla's upcoming mobile browser Firefox Fenix changes tabbed-browsing fundamentally (gHacks - Martin Brinkmann)
  3. WebGL is not supported on Chrome or Firefox? Enable it! WebGL or Web Graphics Library is nothing but a JavaScript API which helps it in rendering interactive 2D and 3D graphics on any supporting web browser without any third party plugins being used. It works well along with web standards which allows it to use the GPU acceleration to render graphics and physics as a part of a web page. It greatly impacts in improving the overall performance of a web page. It is supported on a variety of web browsers like Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and more. But at times, it does not work properly or is not enabled; we will learn today how to get it fixed. Enable WebGL on Chrome & Firefox This issue can be caused due to a number of factors. It includes both browsers as well as the operating system. The Graphics Driver also plays a crucial role in helping out WebGL to function on a computer. Today, we will be checking out how to fix this issue on your updated browsers- Manually enable WebGL on Chrome or Firefox Update your Graphics Card Driver. 1] Manually enable WebGL on Chrome or Firefox First of all open Google Chrome and click on the Menu button (by clicking on three dots button on the top right corner). Next click on Settings. Scroll down to find the button that is labeled as Advanced and click on it. Under the section that goes by the name System, turn on the toggle of Use hardware acceleration when available. Restart Google Chrome. When it starts up again, type in chrome://gpu/ in the address bar and hit the Enter key. This will now display if WebGL is properly enabled or not. Alternatively, you can open the Google Chrome browser and visit this URL: chrome://flags. Look up Disable WebGL in the search box on the top portion of the page. Toggle the appropriate entry to Disabled. Restart Google Chrome for the changes to take effect. This will enable the touch-friendly User Experience on Google Chrome. Firefox users can do the following. To disable Hardware Acceleration in Firefox, open the browser > Options. Now under the General section, scroll down a bit to see Performance. Here check the Use hardware acceleration when available option. Restart Firefox. 2] Update your Graphics Card Driver From the WinX Menu, open Device Manager. Expand the list that says Display Adapters. Right-click on the listing of your NVIDIA Graphics Card and select Enable. Now, right click on it again and click on Update Driver Software… A new window will open up. On that, click on Search automatically for updated driver software. If Windows now detects your Graphics Card and the latest driver for it, great! Else, proceed as follows: Right click on it again and click on Update Driver Software… Click on Browse my computer for driver software. Click on Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer. Select a compatible driver for your computer named as NVIDIA Graphic Card and proceed further. Let the whole process finish. And then restart your PC for the changes to take effect. This will help you update your Graphics Driver. Source
  4. Mozilla Firefox 67 will feature a new anti-fingerprinting technique that protects against certain window-size related fingerprinting methods. Mozilla plans to integrate the new feature in Firefox 67 but delays may postpone the release. Firefox 67 will be released on May 14, 2019 according to the official release schedule. The technique comes from experiments that the developers of the Tor browser conducted and is part of the Tor Uplift project that introduces improvements in the Tor browser to Firefox (Tor browser is based on Firefox code). Window dimensions, especially in maximized state and when windows are resized, may be used for fingerprinting. Fingerprinting refers to using data provided by the browser, e.g. automatically or by running certain scripts, to profile users. One of the appeals that fingerprinting has is that it does not require access to local storage and that some techniques work across browsers. Tip: A study analyzed the effectiveness of fingerprinting countermeasures recently. Maximized or fullscreen windows provide screen width and height information. Fullscreen reveals the actual screen with and height, a maximized window the width and height minus toolbars. Resized windows on the other hand reveal exact dimensions of the browser window, e.g. 1003x744. Letterboxing protects better against window size related fingerprinting techniques. It is a method that rounds the content view dynamically using 128x100 pixel steps. Letterboxing adds margins around the content view of the window and calculates the margin dynamically to ensure that it is applied to resize scenarios as well (and not only when a new window is created). Setting this up in Firefox The Firefox preference privacy.resistFingerprinting determines whether anti-fingerprinting is enabled in Firefox. Note that it may render some sites and services unusable or less functional. Make sure you run at least Firefox 67 (check about:support for the version. Note that this does not appear to have landed in Firefox Nightly atm) Load about:config in the Firefox address bar. Confirm that you will be careful. Search for privacy.resistFingerprinting. True: Fingerprinting protection is enabled including Letterboxing (as of Firefox 67). False: Fingerprinting protection is disabled. You can verify that the protection is in place by visiting Browserleaks or any other site that returns the screen resolution and viewport. Just change the window size a couple of times and reload the page to find out if it rounds the resolution and viewport (it should return a multiple of 128x100 pixels). You may also notice the margins that Firefox uses when the feature is enabled. Source: Firefox 67 with anti-fingerprinting technique letterboxing (gHacks - Martin Brinkmann)
  5. If you use Chromecast, a Google's device to stream content to displays, e.g. to stream a video from your PC to your television, you may have noticed that Firefox is not officially supported. Google added native Chromecast support to the company's Google Chrome browser to cast content, e.g. a browser tab to a connected display. It was necessary to install a Chromecast extension in Chrome previously to do so, but that is no longer the case. Firefox users who own Chromecast devices could not integrate the device in the browser up until now; this changes with the initial release of fx_cast, an open source browser extension for Firefox that implements the Chrome Sender API in Firefox. The author of the extension released an initial version of fx_cast on GitHub. Note that it requires installation of the extension and installation of a bridge app on the operating system. The initial release brings support for Mac OS X and Linux only, a Windows binary is not provided. Firefox Chromecast support Installation is straightforward. The very first thing you may want to do is install the Firefox extension. You find it under releases on the official project website. Note: the release is listed as beta and the developer states explicitly that you should expect bugs and that site compatibility is limited at this point in time. Just click on the "xpi" file and follow the installation dialog to install the extension in Firefox. Mac OS X and Linux users find the Bridge app listed under releases as well. Windows users have the option to compile the binary from source or wait until the developer releases a Windows binary to the public. Use the new cast button in Firefox's interface once everything is set up, and the Chromecast installed properly as well. Another option that you have is to use the cast option in the context menu or the cast button that some services display natively. The interface displays the connected Chromecast devices and the cast menu to select what to cast to a device that is connected. The Firefox extension may spoof the user agent as most sites check for Chrome to determine whether to enable cast support for the connecting user. It does so for Netflix only currently, but you may add sites to the whitelist to have the user agent spoofed as well for connections to these sites. The variable <all_urls> adds all sites to the whitelist. The settings displays a good range of options already. You may change the HTTP server port, enable screen mirroring, or change receiver options in regards to media casting. Closing Words The extension is in its early stages of development but it works surprisingly well on some sites. Most users may want to wait until the developer releases a stable build (and Windows binary) before they give it a try though. Source: fx_cast brings Chromecast streaming to Firefox (early look) (gHacks - Martin Brinkmann)
  6. Textarea Cache is a browser extension for the Firefox web browser that caches text input automatically so that you may recover it if the browser crashes or something else that is unforeseen happens. Text that you type on the Internet may get lost under certain circumstances. Say you write a long comment on a blog and before you can hit submit, the browser crashes, the page reloads, or the submitting gets stuck somehow. When you open the page again, you notice that your comment did not get posted and that your text is not available anymore. Your only recourse is to type the text again, or leave the site if you are too annoyed by the loss. Textarea Cache Textarea Cache is a caching extension for Firefox that caches text input automatically so that you may recover it at any time. Ideal in situations in which text that you type becomes unavailable before it is posted on the site. You may also use it to save text that it is not ready for publication yet. The extension requires access to all sites and browser tabs, and access to adding data to the clipboard. It adds an icon to the main toolbar of the browser that you interact with. A click on the icon displays an URL selector at the top and the cached content below that. Just select one of the available URLs to display the cached text. Buttons to copy the text, delete it, or delete all are provided at the bottom. If you experience a loss of text, you simply click on the extension icon, select the right URL, and then Copy to copy it to the clipboard. You may then paste the copied text to the site again to complete the publication. Options Textarea Cache includes several options to customize the functionality. The following options are provided at the time of the review: Add sites to the ignore list. Three sites, Google Docs Spreadsheets, Slack, and Messenger are listed there by default. Enable the automatic clearing of cache content (days, hours, minutes). Change the interval in which text is cached. The default is set to 2000 ms which is 2 seconds. Various interface display options. Skip confirm when pasting from context menu. Closing Words Textarea Cache is quite the handy extension for Firefox users who type medium to long texts regularly in the browser. Source: Never lose text input in Firefox again with Textarea Cache (gHacks - Martin Brinkmann)
  7. Mozilla plans to introduce a new feature in Firefox 67 Stable that aims to improve the browser's memory usage in low memory conditions. Browsers use a lot more memory than they did a decade ago, partly because websites grew significantly in size and partly because browsers changed as well. It is not uncommon anymore that single tabs may use hundreds of Megabyte of memory, and there are cases where memory usage crosses the 1 Gigabyte mark for individual tabs. Memory usage, especially on low memory devices, is a priority for browser makers. If you run Firefox or another browser on a 4 Gigabyte or 2 Gigabyte RAM system, you may experience a lot of caching if you open enough or the right kind of sites. The concept of unloading tabs in the browser to free up memory is not a new one. Extensions like Dormancy, Suspend Background Tabs, BarTab, or Unload Tab for Firefox (all no longer compatible with Firefox 57 or newer), or Lazy Load Tabs, TabMemFree, or Tabs Limiter for Google Chrome, supported the functionality for years Mozilla improved tab unloading significantly in recent years. If things go as planned, Firefox 67 will introduce a new feature to unload unused tabs to improve memory. The initial bug report dates back eight years but work on the feature began in earnest just a short while ago. Mozilla plans to unload tabs in Firefox in low-memory situations to reduce the number of crashes that users experience caused by low-memory. The bug lists another scenario, to free up resources, but it is not clear yet if and how this will be implemented. Mozilla uses a simple priority list to determine which tabs to unload when the event fires (from lowest to highest) Regular Tabs Pinned Tabs Regular Tabs that Play Audio Pinned Tabs that Play Audio The feature is already available in Firefox Nightly. It was turned on by default on my system but you can control it with the preference browser.tabs.unloadOnLowMemory. True means the feature is enabled, False that it is disabled. It appears that it is available on Windows only at this point because its the only platform that Mozilla can detect low-memory conditions on according to the bug assignee Garbriele Svelto. Firefox 67 will be released on May 14, 2019 to the Stable channel of the browser according to the release schedule. Google implemented a similar feature in the company's Chrome browser. Introduced in 2015, Tab Discarding in Chrome discarded tabs from memory if system memory reached a certain threshold. Closing Words Mozilla expects a drop in out-of-memory related crashes in Firefox and plans to monitor these crashes in the coming weeks to test the hypothesis. Source: Firefox 67: automatically unload unused tabs to improve memory (gHacks - Martin Brinkmann)
  8. Mozilla released a new version of the stable version of its web browser Firefox to the public yesterday. Firefox 65.0.2 is already available as an update for existing Firefox installations. The new version of Firefox fixes a geolocation issue on Windows. Most Firefox installations are updated automatically to the new version thanks to the browser's built-in updating functionality. Users may select Menu > Help > About Firefox to run a manual check for updates. The same page lists the current version of the web browser. Note that Firefox will download and install the update if you open the About Mozilla Firefox page in the browser. The new version is also available as a direct download on Mozilla's website. Note that Mozilla offers a net installer by default which downloads data from Mozilla's server during the installation. You may also download offline Firefox installers instead. Firefox 65.0.2 The release notes of Firefox 65.0.2 list only one entry: Fixed an issue with geolocation services affecting Windows users. Geo a core API of modern browsers used to determine the location of a device in the world. It is often used by mapping and weather services that rely on the user's location for functionality, e.g. by displaying the local weather report right away or computing directions. Firefox gives its users control over the feature. The browser displays a notification to the user when sites try to use the Geolocation functionality. Users may allow or block it, and configure certain sites to permanently make use of it without prompts each time. Mozilla does not reveal the actual issue that users would experience, only that it did affect geolocation on Windows. Source: Firefox 65.0.2 fixes a geolocation issue (gHacks - Martin Brinkmann)
  9. Add custom search engine is a free extension for the Firefox web browser to add any search engine to the Firefox web browser. Firefox users have quite a few options when it comes to adding search providers to the web browser: add them on Mozilla AMO, run searches on sites to have them added, use the search bar to add Open Search search engines, or use the Mycroft Project website to do so. Mozilla changed recently how search providers are added to Firefox. The initial version broke important functionality, e.g. the option to add search engines from AMO or MyCroft. These issues have been fixed for the most part. Add custom search engine Add Custom Search Engine is a browser extension that adds an option to Firefox to add any Internet search engine to the browser using it. Just click on the icon that the extension adds to the Firefox toolbar to open the "add custom search engine" dialog. The basic version requires just two parameters: a name for the search engine and the search URL. You need to replace the search term with the placeholder %s. The best way to go about it is to run a search for TEST on the search engine, copy the URL, and replace TEST with %s, e.g. https://www.ghacks.net/?s=TEST with https://www.ghacks.net/?s=%s. The extension may pick up the favicon automatically but you may specify it if it does not or if you would like to use a different icon. Browse options to pick a local icon are provided as well. Note: The search engine data is uploaded to file.io temporarily due to a limitation with Firefox WebExtensions before the search engine is added to Firefox. The search engine is added to the list of supported search engines by Firefox. You can make it the default search engine, add a keyword to it, or run searches using Firefox's one-off search functionality, or by using the search field if you make use of it. Add Custom Search Engine supports advanced operators that you may enable on the configuration screen. These add the following options: Use Post query parameters. Add a suggest Url so that Firefox may use it to display suggestions using that functionality. Change the input encoding. Add a description. Search engines that you add to Firefox remain available even after you remove the extension. You control all search engines by loading the about:preferences#search in the browser. There you may change the default search engine, enable or disable suggestions, add keywords to search engines, or remove search engines again. Closing Words Add Custom Search Engine is a handy extension for Firefox users who have issues adding certain search engines to the browser and users who want more control over the process. Source: Add custom search engines to Firefox (gHacks - Martin Brinkmann)
  10. The add-ons manager of the Firefox web browser is an essential component; Firefox users may use it to manage installed extensions, themes, and language packs. Mozilla is in the process of removing anything that is XUL from Firefox. It plans to launch the new about:config in Firefox 67 that uses web standards, and is working on a new version of about:addons as well. While it is unclear when that new version will be released in Firefox Stable, it is certain that this is going to happen rather sooner than later. The organization launched an initial redesign of the add-ons manager in October 2018; this initial wave of changes introduced the cards-based design and made some other changes to the interface without removing any functionality from it. Launched in Firefox 64 Stable, it is currently the default view of about:addons. Mozilla revealed back then that the change was part of a larger process. Part of the redesign landed in recent Firefox Nightly versions already. You need to change the configuration to unlock the new add-ons manager. Note that it is only partially integrated in Firefox Nightly currently and that some functionality is not available; it is okay to get a first impression but not functional enough to use it to manage add-ons. Load about:config in the Firefox address bar. Confirm that you will be careful. Search for fextensions.htmlaboutaddons.enable. Click on the toggle button to set the preference to True. A value of True means that Firefox displays about:addons using the upcoming design of the page, a value of False that the old design is used. The current implementation looks like this. Mozilla plans several major changes to the page and highlighted those in a mockup. Please note that it is possible that some elements may change during development. The planned design looks like this: Mozilla plans to replace the dedicated buttons of the interface, e.g. disable or remove, with a single menu for each installed extension; this leaves more room for extension titles and descriptions. A click on the menu displays options to toggle the status (enable/disable), to remove, and to open the advanced options. Active and disabled extensions are separated from each other more clearly in the new manager. The selection of advanced options displays the following interface: You will notice right away that the information is divided into tabs on the page. The tabs details, preferences, and permissions are displayed when you select advanced options. Firefox opens the details tab by default in the mockup; whether that is the best option is up for debate considering that users may be more interested in the preferences. Details lists the description of the extension and links to the developer website, reviews, and an option to leave a review. The preferences tab lists general options and information only. You may disable the toolbar button here, allow the extension to run in private browsing mode, and control automatic updates. The actual extension preferences are not found here. A click on "visit website" opens the extension options. The permissions tab lists all requested permissions. It is unclear at this point in time whether it will be possible to disallow certain permissions. The checkmark buttons next to each permission could indicate that but they could also be just visual indicators. Closing Words The redesigned about:addons page is a work in progress. Certain elements may change during development. I appreciate Mozilla's attempt to add more information to the management page and the clearer structure of it. I dislike the requirement to select Menu > Advanced options to display additional information, and that the new tabbed details page adds clicks to the process of opening an extension's options. Source: A first look at Firefox's updated Add-ons Manager (gHacks - Martin Brinkmann)
  11. Mozilla plans to extend the functionality of Firefox Monitor by displaying breach alerts to users of the browser. The organization ran a Shield Study back in 2018 to test Firefox Monitor in the desktop version of the browser. The feature was passive at that time; users could check whether an account -- email address -- was found on hacked passwords lists, and they could sign up to receive alerts when a particular account was discovered on new leaked lists. Firefox Monitor uses the Have I Been Pwned service but implemented the feature in a way that the full email address is never shared with third-parties. Mozilla started to work on a breach warning system in Firefox in 2017. If things go as planned, Firefox 67 may be the first stable version of the Firefox web browser to warn users when they visit recently hacked websites. Note: The feature is in development currently. It is possible that the release gets delayed or that functionality changes during development. Firefox displays the alert on the first connect to a site that was hacked in the past. The notification displays information about the breach and displays an option to check an account with Firefox Monitor. Mozilla landed the feature in Firefox Nightly recently. Firefox Nightly, currently at version 67, is the cutting edge development channel of Firefox. New features land in Nightly first before they find they way into Beta and Release channel versions. It is necessary to enable the feature before it becomes available. Load about:config in the Firefox address bar. Confirm that you will be careful. Search for extensions.fxmonitor.enabled. If the preference is not available, click on the Add button after making sure the name is correct and the type is set to Boolean. The new Firefox about:config interface makes it super easy to create new preferences. Set the value of the preference to True using the toggle button. Firefox Monitor supports additional preferences of interest: extensions.fxmonitor.firstAlertShown -- This determines whether the first alert notification was shown already. You may set it to False to reset it and get notifications for sites breached in the past 12 months. extensions.fxmonitor.warnedHosts -- Keeps track of the list of hosts for which warnings were displayed. Change the value of the String to blank to reset it. Firefox displays a breach alert when you visit a site that suffered from a breach in the past 12 months. Firefox displays the notification and it is up to you to use Firefox Monitor to check your accounts or dismiss it. If you select dismiss, you get an option to turn the feature off entirely. Firefox remembers that it displayed a breach notification and won't show it again unless you visit a site that was hacked in the past two months. Mozilla does not want to cause notification fatigue by displaying lots of breach warnings to users. Another reason for that decision is that the action that users may take is always the same. A click on the Check Firefox Monitor button opens the Firefox Monitor website. It lists information about that particular breach but the checking options are identical: type an email address to check it for hits in breaches. Source: Firefox 67 to display breach alerts (gHacks - Martin Brinkmann)
  12. Firefox For iOS Now Offers Persistent Private Browsing With Firefox 15 Private browsing on smartphones has always been trouble. It is difficult to go back to the previous session in case you have to close the browser window for some reason. However, Mozilla seemingly addresses this problem with the latest version of Firefox for iOS. With Firefox 15, iOS users can enjoy private browsing persistently until they manually close their sessions. New Firefox For iOS Allows Continuous Private Browsing Mozilla has planned to facilitate iOS users with secure browsing. As announced, the latest version of Firefox for iOS offers iPhone and iPad users to continue browsing in private mode. As described by Mozilla, Firefox 15 for iOS will let the users remain in private browsing mode. “Firefox for iOS now remembers when you toggle Private Browsing mode so that any new tabs you open via the Share extension or clipboard bar will open in the browsing mode you were last in.” Earlier, it was difficult for the users to get back to their private browsing sessions in case they had to close the browser window. However, with Firefox 15, users can continue to browse privately unless they actively exit the Firefox browser. Is It All Useful? Although, the new feature of persistent private browsing seems an attempt to facilitate users. This will save the inconvenience of repeated sign-ins and establishing new browsing sessions if a user has to exit Firefox for any reason. However, this may also pose a threat to user’s privacy in case of accidental physical access to the device. Earlier, exiting the browser would close down all private browsing sessions. But now, the users may have to remember exiting browser actively to close private browsing. Otherwise, anyone else having physical access to the device may witness the browsing sessions. Likewise, the users may require some time to get used to with the new feature. In addition to the launch of persistent private browsing, Firefox 15 for iOS also comes with improved menu and tab settings. The users can now also reorder tabs as required. Source
  13. Firefox 66 is the upcoming stable version of the web browser by Mozilla. The version is currently in the Beta channel and will be moved to Stable on March 19, 2019 according to the release schedule. Firefox 66 incorporates several extensions related changes. One of them changes how extensions use local storage. Extensions in Firefox use JSON files for that currently: starting with Firefox 66, extensions will use IndexedDB instead. Good news is that the migration happens automatically; developers don't need to change extension code and storage used by extensions already installed in pre-Firefox 66 versions will be migrated to the new storage format when the update happens as well. Note: It is recommended that you back up Firefox before you make the change as it is not clear right now whether it will be possible to downgrade the browser after the upgrade. If there is any chance for a downgrade, back up Firefox. Mozilla does not delete the old storage files but adds .migrated to the filenames. You find them in the browser-extension-date folder of the Firefox profile. The change to IndexedDB is beneficial to performance and memory usage according to Mozilla. This results in a significant performance improvement for many extensions, while simultaneously reducing the amount of memory that Firefox uses. Extensions that store "small changes to large structures" benefit highly from the change; many ad-blockers do so according to Mozilla. Mozilla's Luca Greco created a short video that demonstrates how beneficial the change is in regards to performance. The video is silent, unfortunately, and it is a bit difficult to understand what is going on. Focus on the startup performance of the Firefox web browser. You will notice that the browser loads the test site a lot faster in Firefox 66 (with an ad-blocker installed) than previously. Whether you will see an improvement depends largely on the installed extensions. If they do use local storage and make lots of smaller changes, you may see noticeable improvements. Firefox 66 comes with another memory improvement related to extensions. Extensions that load objects from storage to memory use less memory than before thanks to an improvement implementation. Firefox users who run Beta or Nightly versions of the web browser should see the benefits of the new implementation already. Source: Firefox Extensions to use different storage type in Firefox 66 (gHacks - Martin Brinkmann)
  14. With 'Project Fission,' the developer hopes to wall off malicious sites and attack code so websites don't bring down the whole browser. Magdalena Petrova/IDG Mozilla plans to boost Firefox's defensive skills by mimicking the "Site Isolation" technology introduced to Google's Chrome last year. Dubbed "Project Fission," the effort will more granularly separate sites and their individual components than is currently the case in Firefox. The goal: Isolate malicious sites and attack code so individual sites cannot wreak havoc in the browser at large, or pillage the browser, the device or the device's memory of critical information, such as authentication credentials and encryption keys. "We aim to build a browser which isn't just secure against known security vulnerabilities, but also has layers of built-in defense against potential future vulnerabilities," Nika Layzel, the project tech lead of the Fission team, wrote in a post last week to a Firefox development mailing list. "To accomplish this, we need to revamp the architecture of Firefox and support full Site Isolation." Layzel also published the note as the first newsletter from the Fission engineering group. Site Isolation, while a generic label, has been most linked to Google, which used it to describe the defensive features it added to Chrome in 2018. Although Google had been working on site isolation for years, it only added the technology to Chrome in late 2017, and switched it on for most users in mid-2018. Fortuitously, site isolation was the answer to Spectre and Meltdown, new classes of vulnerabilities in a huge swath of hardware, including PC and server processors, and software - primarily browsers - that went public in early 2018. With site isolation, a browser devotes separate processes to each domain, or site, and in some cases, different processes for components on a site. iframes, for example, which have been used for malicious purposes, are rendered in processes separate from the one handling the overarching site. One Chrome software engineer applauded Mozilla's move. "Awesome to hear that @firefox is working on full site isolation," said Nasko Oskov in a Feb. 5 Twitter message. "I'll be cheering from the sidelines and if sharing our hurdles on Chrome can be helpful, I'd be more than happy to share. Lots of interesting challenges and bugs along the way." Currently, Firefox dedicates one process to the browser user interface (UI) and several others - up to eight - for the browser tabs' content. Site isolation would multiply the number of processes assigned to the browser, with at least one, likely several, for each website. That multi-process work, called "Electrolysis," had a torturous history as Mozilla started, stopped, then restarted the project. Only in 2016 did Firefox start offering the results to users, with Mozilla calling it the "largest change we've ever made to Firefox." Fission will be a daunting project as well, Layzel predicted. "Fission is a massive project," he said, after asserting "we need to revamp the architecture of Firefox" to accomplish the mission. Mozilla has given no hint of when it expects to complete Fission - it has not published a public roadmap, as it sometimes does with major initiatives - but the first in what will certainly be a long series of milestones comes due at the end of February. "Now that we've moved past much of the initial infrastructure ground work, we are going to keep track of work with our milestone targets," Layzel wrote. "Each milestone will contain a collection of new features and improved functionality which brings us incrementally closer to our goal." The first of those markers will encompass tasks necessary to move iframes to their own processes, Layzel said. No one at Mozilla has hazarded a guess as to the memory impact of Fission, but that topic will be of great interest to users when work has neared a final browser release. Splitting the browser into multiple processes consumes more memory, a factor in Mozilla's decision to adopt the format of Electrolysis. At the time, Mozilla argued that its approach was more conservative of memory than Google's, which at the time relied on a separate process for each tab. (Now, of course, Chrome can assign several processes to a single tab's contents.) When Google added Site Isolation to Chrome, the open round memory hit was around a 20% increase. Later changes brought that down to between 10% and 13%. Source: Mozilla to harden Firefox defenses with site isolation, a la Chrome (Computerworld - Gregg Keizer)
  15. Distill Web Monitor is a free browser extension for the Google Chrome and Firefox web browsers that you may use to monitor webpages for changes. Internet users have some options when it comes to monitoring changes on webpages. They may use RSS for that if the site uses it, or extensions or services that monitor changes. Monitoring changes can be useful in many regards: to monitor price changes for items of interest, be informed about updates, or changes to the availability of items. Distill Web Monitor Distill Web Monitor is available for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera officially. The free version requires no account but is limited in several key aspects. You can add up to 25 page monitors to the extension of which up to 5 may be cloud monitored. Paid versions increase the limit and other parameters. Distill Web Monitor adds an icon to the browser's address bar that acts as one of the indicators for changes and is used to create and manage new monitoring tasks. A click on the icon displays current monitors and options to add a monitor. Monitored pages with changes are displayed at the top of the list; a click opens the page in a new browser tab directly. Buttons at the top provide you with options to stop the monitoring process, mark all changes as read, or open all pages with changes in new tabs in the browser. New monitors are added easily using the extension. You have the option to monitor the entire page or select parts of the page. Full page monitoring is easier to set up but it may result in false positives as all parts of a page are monitored for changes. The custom monitoring option works similarly to how Inspectors work in the Developer Tools. Just move the mouse over an element that you want tracked and click on it. You can click on multiple items to add them all to the list of monitored items. Advanced users may use different selectors and even add items to the list of monitored items manually. A click on "save selections" saves the selections and opens the second configuration page. Distill Web Monitor tracks changes on pages using JavaScript by default. You may disable that, and the main reason why you want to disable JavaScript tracking is that Distill opens each monitored page in a browser tab on the left side of the tab bar when JavaScript is used. You can change the name of the monitored page and the interval, e.g. to every 5 minutes or once a day. Last but not least, you may enable audio or popup notifications for local monitors. Email monitors are supported as well but you need to create an account to use them. Closing Words Distill Web Monitor is a useful extension for Internet users who want to keep track of items on web pages. You may use it to monitor prices, updates, the availability of items, or the relationship status of your secret crush on Facebook. The main limitation of the free version is the number of items that you monitor and the notification methods that you may configure. Paid versions increase the limit and unlock additional functionality. Source: Monitor webpage changes with Distill Web Monitor (gHacks - Martin Brinkmann)
  16. How to Enable Cryptocurrency Mining Protection in Mozilla Firefox One of the new features coming soon to Mozilla Firefox users is cryptocurrency mining protection, and while the company hasn’t provided any details as to when the release could take place, an early implementation is already available. First of all, what’s crypto-mining protection? In their efforts to mine for cryptocurrency, malicious actors often turn to websites and scripts that use your resources for their own purpose. In other words, your own system is being used to mine for cryptocurrency in their account, and it all happens when loading crafted pages or scripts. While there are several ways to stay protected against such dangerous content, browser developers themselves are trying to block crypto miners with built-in security features that prevent them from eating up your system’s resources. As the second most-used browser on the desktop, Mozilla Firefox will soon get similar capabilities too, basically being able to detect miners and block them before launching. Cryptominers and fingerprinters will be blocked as part of the new Firefox content tracking implementation, and you’ll be allowed to decide whether you want the browser to provide such protection or not. There’s just one risk when running content blockers: some websites could break down and the pages would be loaded incorrectly. While Mozilla is still working on cryptominer blocking, the feature has recently been implemented in the Firefox Nightly builds, letting you give it a try before it goes live for everyone. Needless to say, this feature may not be flawless at this point, as it’s still work in progress. Also, Firefox Nightly shouldn’t become your daily browser because this is Mozilla’s testing platform. The first thing you need to do is to run the latest version of Firefox Nightly – I tested the steps detailed below on Firefox Nightly version 67.0a1 (2019-02-11) (64-bit), so any version newer than that should be OK. Launch the browser, and in the address bar type the following command: about:config You’ll be warned that making changes to the default configuration could affect browser stability, so just continue to see the available options. Next, in the address bar you need to search for the following options one by one and enable them: browser.contentblocking.fingerprinting.preferences.ui.enabled browser.contentblocking.cryptomining.preferences.ui.enabled As you’ll notice, both of them are set to false, you double-click them to switch to true. When both are enabled, you can just restart Firefox to get the new features. Now that you enabled both the blockers and the user interface to control them, you can simply turn them on from the Settings screen. To do this, click the Firefox menu button and go to: Options > Privacy & Security > Content Blocking You need to enable the Custompreference, and when expanding the menu, you’ll see two new options called Cryptominers and Fingerprinters. Activate both of them and you’re good to go. It’s critical to keep in mind that this is just an early implementation of the feature and it may not work exactly as expected, but given that it’s part of Firefox Nightly, you can just give it a try and then submit your feedback to Mozilla for further refinements. Firefox is right now the second most popular desktop browser with a market share close to 10 percent, but it’s pretty much the only alternative to Google Chrome. The majority of other browsers switched to Chromium, including Microsoft Edge, so if you don’t want to use a Google Chrome browser, Firefox is the only option. Mozilla has pledged to continue improving Firefox with other features in the coming updates, especially because it remains the top alternative to Google Chrome, so it shouldn’t take too long before the cryptomining protection goes live for everyone. Source
  17. Mozilla plans to launch cryptomining and fingerprinting protection in Firefox 67 to improve user privacy. Cryptomining and fingerprinting protection block JavaScript cryptominers and certain attempts by websites to fingerprint the user. The organization revealed in 2018 that it had plans to improve privacy in Firefox. Mozilla added content blocking options to Firefox 63 -- an update of the browser's tracking protection functionality -- and that it wanted to add more protective features to future versions of Firefox. If things go as planned, Firefox 67 will feature options to block JavaScript cryptominers and certain fingerprinting attempts. Cryptominers use the resources of the connecting device to mine cryptocurrency; this leads to an increase in CPU activity and power consumption. Depending on how the miner is configured, it may slow down the entire system and all operations on it as well. Fingerprinting protection is not a new feature. Fingerprinting refers to techniques to create user profiles for tracking using information provided by the connecting browser and device, and certain scripts if permitted to run. Mozilla introduced a preference to block some fingerprinting methods in Firefox 41. First signs of an integration in Firefox's main user interface showed up in May 2018. Mozilla showcased extensions to the content blocking functionality back then that included options to block analytics, fingerprinting, crypto-mining, and social tracking. Only two of those, fingerprinting and cryptomining protections, will find their way into Firefox 67. The options are displayed when users click on the site information icon next to the site URL, and when they launch the privacy options in the Firefox settings. Select custom on the settings page under content blocking to display the new options. It is not clear yet if these options will be enabled by default or if users need to enable them manually in Firefox 57. Just check cryptominers and fingerprinters there to block these on all sites. You may still add exceptions if you want some sites to use the functionality. It is possible that the blocking may block some site functionality from executing correctly. Firefox 67's release date is May 14, 2019. Closing Words The introduction of additional protective features is a long overdue step considering Mozilla's stance in regards to privacy. It remains to be seen if the options are enabled by default or turned off; it would not be of much use to the bulk of users if the latter is the case. Mozilla is still facing quite the dilemma when it comes to user privacy and content blocking: adding full content blocking options to Firefox would set it apart from Google Chrome. It would improve user privacy, speed up the loading of sites, and be beneficial to security as well. Mozilla's survival depends on its deals with search engine companies, on the other hand. It is doubtful that Google and others would pay Mozilla a premium for being the default search engine if the Firefox browser would block advertisement by default. Source: Firefox 67: Cryptomining and Fingerprinting protection (gHacks - Martin Brinkmann)
  18. Firefox 66 Will Feature MiTM Attack Warnings By Default Mozilla has recently released its browser version Firefox 65 that brings enhanced content blocking. With the upcoming Firefox 66, it will alert users of any software that performs a man-in-the-middle (MiTM) attack. Firefox66 Will Exhibit MiTM Warnings Mozilla has announced the launch of a new feature in Firefox 66 taking a step towards user privacy. Reportedly, the next version for Firefox browser will generate warnings about possible man-in-the-middle attacks. As disclosed, the new feature will generate a visual error page whenever a third-party application attempts to intercepts network connection or injects untrusted certificates. The message will read the text “MOZILLA_PKIX_ERROR_MITM_DETECTED”. According to Mozilla, “We turned on the MitM error page by default in 66, alerting users that their connection is probably broken because of an application in the middle of their traffic.” This message would probably arise under circumstances where an app installed on the user’s device attempt to replace a valid TLS certificates with the ones untrusted by Firefox. For instance, when an antivirus program runs on a user’s device it may try to inject its own certificates to scan for malware by intercepting HTTPS traffic, or if it attempts to debug encrypted traffic, Firefox will display this warning. Likewise, if malware executes on a user’s machine, and attempts to replace TLS certificates for malicious purposes, Firefox will show an alert message. Why Alert Users About MiTM With this feature of generating MiTM attack warnings, Mozilla strives to provide even better security to users. These warnings may not be valid every time though. Yet, they will enable users to take prompt action when needed. Mozilla isn’t the first to launch this feature for the users. In 2017, Google already introduced this feature with Chrome 63. The browser would display error messages upon detecting any SSL errors due to possible MiTM attacks. Source
  19. Mozilla plans to introduce a change in upcoming versions of the Firefox web browser that blocks extensions from running in private browsing mode by default. Firefox makes no distinction between regular and private browsing mode in regards to browser extensions currently. Opera browser, another Chromium-based browser, disallows extensions as well but supports options to allow them in the mode explicitly. The same functionality is provided by Microsoft Edge. Another core difference between Firefox and Chrome in private windows is that Chrome users cannot restore closed tabs in that mode. Mozilla plans to implement changes that follows Opera Software's and Microsoft's implementation: extensions are disallowed to run in private browsing mode by default but users get options to turn them on explicitly in that mode. The feature is hidden behind a preference currently and only available in Firefox Nightly builds. It is not clear yet when it will land in Firefox Stable. Here is what needs to be done: Load about:config in the browser's address bar. Confirm that you will be careful if the warning prompt is displayed. Search for private. Set extensions.allowPrivateBrowsingByDefault to false to disallow extensions in private browsing mode by default. Set it to true to allow all extensions to run in private browsing mode. The preference extensions.PrivateBrowsing.notification defines whether a prompt is displayed to the user on first run. The prompt informs the user that extensions are disabled by default in private browsing mode. It is unclear what extensions.OpenInPrivateWindow.firstRun and extensions.OpenInPrivateWindow.reusePrivateWindow do; if you have information feel free to share it in the comment section below. Once you have set extensions.allowPrivateBrowsingByDefault to false, you will get a notification the first time you open a new private browsing window in the Firefox web browser. Firefox will inform you about the blocking of extensions on about:addons as well and that you may allow extensions to run in private browsing mode. Just select one of the enabled extensions, and there the "Run in Private Windows" option allow; this enables the extension in private windows in the Firefox web browser. Please note that this does not work the other way around. You cannot allow extensions to run in private windows by default and use the "run in private windows" option to disallow select extensions. It is unclear if the preferences remain in Firefox Stable or if extensions will be disallowed in private browsing mode by default. You can follow progress on Bugzilla. Closing Words Mozilla's implementation is the most user-friendly implementation as it provides Firefox users with options to run select extensions in private windows. I have to admit that I never fully understood why extensions need to be disabled in private browsing mode. While doing so may block untrustworthy extension developers from recording user data, it at the same time disables content blockers in that mode which may lead to other forms of tracking that users cannot do anything against then. Source: Firefox will soon disallow extensions in private mode by default (gHacks - Martin Brinkmann)
  20. SmartAdblock is a new content blocker for Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, and compatible browsers. While there are certainly lots of content blockers out there already, including the excellent cross-platform extensions uBlock Origin and uMatrix, it is fair to say that there is still room for improvement especially when it comes to usability and also functionality. SmartAdblock does not reinvent the wheel when it comes to the blocking of ads, but it does add some extra features on top of it that set it apart from the default configurations of other content blockers. The three main features that the browser extension supports out of the box deal with cookie and GDPR warnings, handle adblock detectors on popular websites, and block aggressive popup ads on sites. Note: Advertisement is still powering a large part of the Internet and sites like Ghacks rely on the revenue to stay online. Consider supporting the sites that you like and visit regularly. SmartAdblock First Look The extension adds an icon to the main browser toolbar. The icon indicates the number of blocked elements on the active page. It furthermore lists an option to disable content-blocking on the active site, and to open the developer website to contact the developer or tip them. The security certificate of the site expired today, however. Happens, but it is definitely something that the devs should address quickly. SmartAdblock works out of the box; that is necessary, as it does not offer any configuration options besides enabling or disabling ads on a site. If you need more control, e.g. allowing or disallowing certain connections, you need to look elsewhere right now. Options to add custom filters, remove elements visually, and other important features are missing as well at the time of writing. Bypassing Adblock detectors and cookie / GDPR privacy notifications Many sites display notifications or prompts to users when they detect the use of content blockers. Some allow users to continue without disabling the content blocker, others block access until the use signs up for a premium account or disables the content blocker. SmartAdblock bypasses these prompts on a number of popular websites and many more. The extension worked on sites like CNET, Business Insider, IGN, Eurogamer, and Techradar. Site content loads directly and interrupting prompts are not displayed. The bypassing works for many cookie and GDPR privacy notifications as well out of the box. Popup blocking Popup blocking is another specialty of SmartAdblock especially when it comes to aggressive popups used on sites like Putlocker. The blocking worked really well during tests on sites that throw popup ads at users regularly. Blocked popups are highlighted in the extension interface so that they may be opened in case of false positives. Closing Words SmartAdblock is a set and forget kind of adblocker that blocks advertisement well. It is the extension's extra features, the bypassing of anti-adblock and privacy prompts, and the blocking of aggressive popup ads that make it stand out. The developers should consider adding more control over the blocking process to the extension to make it more useful. Also, more options, e.g. custom filters, loading of extra lists, and so on would certainly be appreciated by many users. Source: A first look at SmartAdblock for Firefox and Chrome (gHacks - Martin Brinkmann)
  21. Mozilla launched an initial version of a redesigned about:config page of the Firefox web browser in Firefox Nightly. The new page is built using web technologies, the old was based on XUL technology that Mozilla wants to remove completely from the browser. Note: the page is a work in progress. Things may change before the new page lands in Firefox Stable. It is unclear if Mozilla will make the change in Firefox 67 or newer versions of the browser. Interested users can follow development by pointing their browser to the Meta bug on Bugzilla. Firefox displays the warning again on first launch of the new interface even if the browser was set up to skip the warning. The new interface is blank by default. All that is displayed is a search field at the top and one of the iconic background images that Mozilla uses for internal Firefox pages. It is necessary to hit Esc or press the Enter key to display all preferences. The new web-technologies-based interface is not as compact as the old interface; and there are other changes. One major change, right now at the very least, is that it is no longer possible to interact with any preference by double-clicking on it. You may remember that you could double-click on any Boolean preference to toggle its value, and on any String or Integer value to display the edit prompt right away. This is no longer possible; Firefox users need to click on Edit or Toggle buttons to make these changes. Toggle changes the value of the Boolean value right away, Edit gives the ability to change the value of preferences using other data types. Some preferences have a reset or delete button attached to them. Reset changes the value of the preference to the default value, delete removes it from the browser. Delete appears to be available for preferences that were added by the user manually, only. Another change is that it is not possible to sort the listing anymore, at least not in this initial version. The old interface came with headers that you could click on to sort the listing accordingly, e.g. by modified preferences. Mozilla won't add sorting options to the about:config page as it stands now. More problematic than that is that Mozilla won't allow deep links to about:config pages anymore citing that it "might not be a good idea" or even "risky in some regard", and that users should just copy and paste preference names in the search box instead. Closing Words The planned about:config page is in some regards less usable than the previous one. It lacks sorting, throws away deep linking support, and uses an interface that displays less preferences per page than before. Source: A look at Firefox's new about:config page (gHacks - Martin Brinkmann)
  22. Starting with version 66, Firefox will let you know when antivirus products, malware, or your ISP are tapping into your HTTPs traffic. The Firefox browser will soon come with a new security feature that will detect and then warn users when a third-party app is performing a Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attack by hijacking the user's HTTPS traffic. The new feature is expected to land in Firefox 66, Firefox's current beta version, scheduled for an official release in mid-March. The way this feature works is to show a visual error page when, according to a Mozilla help page, "something on your system or network is intercepting your connection and injecting certificates in a way that is not trusted by Firefox." An error message that reads "MOZILLA_PKIX_ERROR_MITM_DETECTED" will be shown whenever something like the above happens. The most common situation where this error message may appear is when users are running local software, such as antivirus products or web-dev tools that replace legitimate website TLS certificates with their own in order to scan for malware inside HTTPS traffic or to debug encrypted traffic. Another scenario, also quite common, is when a user's computer gets infected with malware that attempts to intercept HTTPS traffic by installing untrusted certificates. A third scenario would be when an ISP or a malicious user on the same network is also hijacking the user's internet traffic, and replacing certificates in order to spy on the user's HTTPS traffic. The new MitM error page aims to serve as an early warning sign that something is wrong and that a deeper investigation may be needed. This Mozilla support page comes with various recommendations for each situation and how to configure various antivirus products. The MitM detection feature was initially scheduled to be released with Firefox 65. Its release was delayed after the MitM error page needed more fine-tuning to avoid false positives. Firefox is the second browser to add a MitM error page. The first was Google Chrome, which received support for showing MitM errors in version 63, released in December 2017. Source
  23. How to Fix Firefox 65 Errors Caused by Antivirus Bug Mozilla Firefox 65 is available for download right now on all supported platforms, and this new version comes with several major improvements, including some that enhance user privacy significantly. But at the same time, it looks like this new release also causes browsing issues on certain Windows systems, and it’s all because of a compatibility bug hitting several antivirus solutions. As reported earlier today, Firefox 65 fails to load many or even all websites on some devices where Avast antivirus is installed, with some reports also claiming that other security products may be affected as well, including AVG and Kaspersky. Mozilla has already confirmed that there’s indeed an issue on Windows, and the company decided to stop the automatic rollout of Firefox 65 to prevent the problem from becoming more widespread. In other words, Firefox 65 will no longer be offered automatically to Windows devices using the built-in updating engine, but users who want to install it will have to download the browser manually. Little is known at this point about the bug, but it looks like it all comes down to some certificate issues, as antivirus products on Windows attempt to inject code into Firefox in order to ensure secure browsing. The process fails in some instances, and this causes Firefox to be unable to load websites, with the application returning the following error: Your connection is not secure. uses an invalid security certificate. The certificate is not trusted because the issuer certificate is unknown. The server might not be sending the appropriate intermediate certificates. An additional root certificate may need to be imported. Error code: SEC_ERROR_UNKNOWN_ISSUER While Mozilla says it is investigating, a workaround already exists, though there’s a chance it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Users need to disable HTTPS scanning in their antivirus solutions and to also adjust a setting in the about:config menu of the browser. First and foremost, doing the HTTPS thing in Avast, is pretty easy because it all comes down to just a few clicks. Basically, follow the path below to uncheck the option called Enable HTTPS Scanning. Avast > Settings > Protection > Core Shields > Configure Shield Settings > Web Shield > Enable HTTPS Scanning At this point, HTTPS scanning should be off in Avast, so rebooting Firefox should now restore the full functionality of the browser. You can also reboot the system if you don’t see any difference. However, some users on Mozilla’s forums suggested an extra workaround which involves enabling of a special flag in the browser. To do this, launch Firefox and in the address bar type the following code: about:config You’ll see a warning that you’re about to change critical features of the browser, so just take it for granted. Don’t change anything beside what we detail here. Search for a flag that uses the following name: security.enterprise_roots.enabled By default, this setting should be set to false, so just double-click it to set it to true. Restart the browser and check if the full functionality of the browser is back. Mozilla says it is already working on a fix, but an ETA hasn’t been provided just yet. Needless to say, antivirus vendors are investigating the problem as well, yet it remains to be seen how fast patches would be provided. What’s important to know is that this issue only affects Windows systems, but it’s not limited just to Windows 10. Windows 7 and 8.1 devices are encountering the same problem, so if you’re seeing the error detailed above, your antivirus product might be the culprit. Source
  24. For the second straight month, Mozilla's Firefox gained user share in January. That puts its share back where it was in mid-2018. Mozilla's Firefox wrapped up a two-month resurgence this week, clawing back some previously-lost user share to return to a level last seen in the middle of 2018. The open-source browser remains the only major browser committed to using a rendering engine that is not based on Google's Blink or its predecessor, WebKit. According to web analytics vendor Net Applications, Firefox's share rose by three-tenths of a percentage point in January, reaching 9.9%. The increase was the second consecutive month of user share growth and put Firefox back where it was last June. Firefox's gains were important, as the browser flirted with dangerous territory as recently as November, when it slumped to below 9%. The trend at the time looked nasty; if the declines had continued at the 12-month average pace, Firefox would have fallen below 7% by August 2019. The increases of the last two months have altered that forecast. The 12-month average, if continued, would still erode Firefox's user share, but at a much slower tempo: the browser should remain above 9% throughout this year, falling under that bar only in January 2020. If Mozilla maintains the Firefox user share recovery, its efforts to revitalize the browser - starting with the November 2017 debut of Firefox Quantum - will be validated. What's unclear is whether that work will simply let Firefox survive or if it can trigger a return to a time when the browser was in solid second place (then behind IE) with a quarter of the world's share. The browser maker does have a message that may resonate in 2019: On Windows, it will soon be the only major browser running on non-Google technologies. In December, Microsoft announced that it would abandon its home-grown rendering and JavaScript engines for those built by Chromium, the open-source project led by Google. Mozilla has already used that to argue people should download and try Firefox, and certainly will do so again. Net Applications calculates user share by detecting the agent strings of the browsers people run to reach the websites of Net Applications' clients. The firm tallies the visitor sessions rather than count users, as it once did. In other words, Net Applications' data best illustrates user activity. IE sinks, Edge doesn't Microsoft's browsers - Internet Explorer (IE) and Edge - also gained ground in January, adding approximately two-tenths of a percentage point to put their combined shares at 12.6%. The increase wasn't unprecedented, as the browsers posted in-the-black numbers four out of the 12 months in 2019. One month does not a trend make, however. The increase was solely due to Edge, which rose by half a percentage point to 4.6%, a number that meant about 11% of all Windows 10 users ran the browser in January. The latter figure has been an important metric, as it has showed the enthusiasm (or lack thereof) for the Windows 10-only browser. Plainly put, there has been little to none, although it also has occasionally climbed rather than fallen. Microsoft's decision to go "full-Chromium" with Edge - to effectively give up the fight against Chrome's dominance and join it by crafting a doppelgänger - was a bet that the browser could survive, even grow, under that strategy. The question is whether there will be much of an Edge left by the time Microsoft switches technologies. As a result, January's uptick had to be welcome by Microsoft. On the other hand, IE dropped nearly four-tenths of a percentage point last month, sliding to 7.9%, a record low for the browser that once lorded it over the world - at least the worldwide web - with as much impunity as any of history's monarchs. IE was used on about 9% of all Windows PCs in January, also an all-time low. Microsoft may well applaud the downward spiral of IE, as the browser has been maintained solely for legacy purposes in enterprises. There are, in fact, good arguments to be made that Microsoft will drop IE as soon as it has built "full-Chromium" Edge. Chrome grabs more share...yawn Net Applications pegged Chrome's user share at 67.3% for January, a one-tenth of a percentage point boost. It was the ninth increase in the previous 12 months. Google's browser remained on a steep trend line, with its 12-month average indicating it would crack 68% in March and 70% in July. Each time Chrome takes a pause that could be interpreted as a high-water mark, within a month or two it jumps up again to maintain momentum. Elsewhere, Apple's Safari added three-tenths of a percentage point to its user share, ending January with an even 4%, the browser's highest mark since April 2018. Its portion of all Macs also grew, climbing to 37.8% - or more than two-and-a-half points above December - even though the operating system share of macOS remained above 10.6% for the second straight month. Source: Top web browsers 2019: Firefox scores second straight month of share growth (Computerworld - Gregg Keizer)
  25. Firefox browser maker Mozilla published an Anti-Tracking policy recently that defines which tracking techniques Firefox will block by default in the future. The organization launched Tracking Protection, a feature to block or restrict certain connections, in 2014, and revealed in 2015 that Tracking Protection would reduce page load times by 44% on average. Tracking Protection launched in Firefox Stable for non-private browsing windows along a new feature called tailing in November 2017 with the release of Firefox 57. Mozilla revealed plans in mid-2018 to push Tracking Protection in Firefox and the Anti-Tracking policy is an important milestone of the process. Mozilla's plan is to implement protection in the Firefox web browser against all practices outlined in the anti-tracking policy. Tracking Protection relies on Disconnect lists currently to identify trackers. Mozilla defines tracking in the following way in the document: Tracking is the collection of data regarding a particular user's activity across multiple websites or applications (i.e., first parties) that aren’t owned by the data collector, and the retention, use, or sharing of data derived from that activity with parties other than the first party on which it was collected. In short: if user activity data is collected and stored, used or shared by third-parties, it is tracking. Mozilla plans to block certain tracking practices. Outlined in the policy are the following types: Cookie-based cross-site tracking -- Cookies and other storage types may be used by third-parties to track users on the Internet. See Firefox new Cookie Jar policy. URL parameter-based cross-site tracking -- Another cross-site tracking practice that relies on URLs instead of cookies to pass on user identifiers. The organization highlights other tracking practices that Firefox's tracking protection won't block from the get-go but might in the future: Browser fingerprinting -- Sites may use data provided by the browser during connections or by using certain web techniques to create user fingerprints. Supercookies -- Also known as Evercookies. Refers to storage used for tracking that is not cleared automatically when a user clears the browsing history and data. See this list of caches that Firefox uses. Firefox won't block techniques described above if they "lower the risk of specific user harm". Mozilla highlights two scenarios where this is the case: When the techniques improve the security of client authentication. To prevent the creation of fraudulent accounts or completion of fraudulent purchases. Closing words Mozilla will implement protection against the outlined forms of tracking in future versions of Firefox. The organization's plan to tackle tracking and not advertisement in its entirety is different from the ad-blocking approach that Opera Software or Brave are pursuing. Ad-blocking takes care of tracking practices automatically by blocking certain content from executing on web pages. I like Mozilla's approach to tracking as a webmaster as it does not block advertising outright and speed up the death of sites like mine. As a user, I think it would only have any chance of being effective if advertising companies like Google would get their act together and a) start to limit tracking and b) deal with malvertising and advertisement that is very taxing to system resources. Source: Mozilla publishes Anti-Tracking Policy (gHacks - Martin Brinkmann)
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