Security Strategy, Plan, Budget

Firefox 2.0 public release on Tuesday

On the heels of Microsoft's release of the Internet Explorer 7 (IE7), Mozilla on Tuesday is scheduled to unveil the third version of its popular alternative web browser, Firefox.

Like IE7, Firefox 2.0's most significant security feature is a new anti-phishing technology, Window Snyder, Mozilla's recently hired security chief, told Drawing from a constantly updated blacklist, the anti-phishing controls, enabled by default, alert users when they come across a questionable website. A warning sign pops up on the screen asking users if they want to return to their home page.

A less visible security feature rests in the browser's use of "sandboxing," which prevents untrusted - possibly malicious - code from interacting outside the context of a specific webpage, Snyder said.

Firefox, which partially grew to acclaim because of its tabbed browsing, which lets users load websites in separate tabs of a single browser window, will see improvements to this feature in the latest version, Snyder said. If the browser unexpectedly closes, it wil restore all tabs, in addition to windows, in-progress downloads and text typed into web forms. (Microsoft's IE7, released last week, includes tabbed browsing for the first time).

The new Firefox version also offers web-form spell checking, search-term suggestions and customized web feeds.

The almost simultaneous releases of IE7 and Firefox 2.0 come as competition heats up in the browser market.

According to website tools vendor Net Applications, as reported by technology site Ars Technica, as of September, IE has an 82.1 percent global market share - its lowest level in two years - compared to the growing Firefox share of 12.5 percent. Apple's Safari netted a 3.5 percent share.

Mozilla officials, meanwhile, estimate their browser has a global share of about 17 percent, about 15 percent in the United States.

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