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Mozilla claims improved security on Firefox 3 Beta 1

Mozilla has released the beta for the third variation of its Firefox web browser.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based organization last week made Firefox 3 Beta 1 available for developers and testers.

Mozilla has not disclosed a target release date for Firefox 3. The organization released Firefox on Nov. 1.

The third planned version of Firefox is set to contain a number of security enhancements, including tools to improve website identity, malware protection, stricter SSL error pages, anti-virus integration and better password management, according to a company blog post by Mozilla public relations manager Melissa Shapiro.

Specific security improvements will include a location bar icon that will allow users to see a website's owner, with Extended Validation SSL certificate information installed on later versions.  

The browser will also feature new web forgery protection pages and SSL error pages, as well as an add-on and plug-in version check, according to release notes provided by Mozilla.

Zulfikar Ramzan, senior principal researcher at Symantec Security Response, told today that Firefox had fewer recorded vulnerabilities during the first half of this year than Internet Explorer, but the browser also has a smaller user base.

Vulnerabilities within Firefox may become more common as Mozilla introduces new technologies, such as offline web browsing.

“That might introduce new issues with security because it introduces new avenues into your computers,” he said.

The third version of the popular web browser will also include improved integration with anti-virus software, and will notify solutions when a user downloads executable files.

Shapiro said last week on a company blog that the new browser version will include improved ease of use, richer personalization and improved features, such as new graphics and font rendering architecture and better data reliability.

A Mozilla representative could not be reached for comment.

Mike Haro, senior security analyst at Sophos, told today that the general public considers Firefox a safer browser than IE, although other browsers have caught up to it in some areas.

“I think that, in terms of why a user might move to Firefox, there might not only be improved security but ease of use, although tabs are no longer a differentiator for Firefox,” he said.

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