Improved security touted in new Firefox

With a new release of the popular Firefox web browser about to be rolled out, Mozilla is trying to create some hoopla by attempting to enter the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest number of software downloads in 24 hours. Security experts, however, are likely more interested in the new security features embedded in the new web-browsing tool.

Firefox 3 is based on the Gecko 1.9 web-rendering platform, and this platform is said to have made “more than 14,000 updates, including some major re-architecting to provide improved performance, stability, rendering correctness, and code simplification and sustainability.”

While Mozilla is touting its improvements in usability as well as dozens of new offerings, malware protection is near the top of its list of new features.

Firefox 3.1 will now “warn users when they arrive at sites which are known to install viruses, spyware, trojans or other malware.”

Also new is a Web Forgery Protection page, which purportedly will block the content of pages suspected as web forgeries.

When a webpage with an invalid SSL certificate is encountered, the new Firefox promises to display “clearer and stricter” error pages.

The new version of the browser also now automatically checks add-on and plugin versions and will disable older, insecure versions.

Firefox 3.1 also promises to inform anti-virus software when downloading executables, offer the Vista system-wide parental control setting for disabling file downloads, better restrict cookies and other restricted content to a single domain, and offer better protection against cross-site JSON data leaks.

As the world gets more connected and broadband access spreads wider, the bad guys will surely develop new methods to crack codes and penetrate all the new defenses being implemented today. These modern-day pirates can be expected to accept the challenge Firefox’s new anti-intrusion measures provide.

It’s an unfortunate game of cat and mouse. The more that improvements and defenses are launched, the internet parasites are fed a new safe to crack. Will the cycle ever end?

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