Microsoft to Offer Tool for Porting Chrome Extensions to Edge

With the release of their new operating system, Windows 10, Microsoft has been keen on getting users to use their new software. Not just their operating system is new, though, with Edge replacing the demonised Internet explorer. One thing that has kept users from accepting and using the new browser is its lack of extensions, something that is set to change this year thanks to a tool Microsoft is currently working on.

It’s been clear for a while that rather than open another market for extension developers to create their tools in, Microsoft would look to bring Chrome’s extensions to Edge. In a tweet from Jacob Rossi, an engineer working on Edge, the picture becomes a little clearer on how they want to do this.

So it would appear that they are working on a tool that will enable you to port your favourite Chrome extensions over to the Edge browser. While a further response showed that they would still be working on creating a list of extensions directly for Edge.

Would you be willing to swap out your current browser for Edge? Are you an Edge user and if so how much would extensions change your everyday experience with the browser? Give us your thoughts below

Gaming in Your Browser is About to Get Interesting With WebAssembly

WebAssembly, it may be something that most of you have never really heard of, but it’s going to have a huge impact on the way we use or web browsers. WebAssembly is a compiling technology, which is capable of bringing browser output closer to that of native machine code; not even the best JavaScript compilers come anywhere near it in terms of performance.

Luke Wagner, a Mozilla developer, helped reveal the new additions as Mozilla Hacks this week, while also confirming the availability of WebAssembly ports of Unity’s Angry Bots. The game can now be played on a Chrome, Firefox, Edge and even Safari will be joining the party soon enough.

Below you’ll find a video released by Microsoft that shows the Angry Bots running in Edge using the Chakra engine via WebAssembly.

‘Despite being an early implementation, the demo starts-up significantly faster than just using asm.js as the WebAssembly binaries have a smaller file size and parse more quickly than plain JavaScript that needs to be parsed in the asm.js case.’ said Chakra Program Manager Limin Zhu.

The new format for native web applications supports all the functionality enabled by the asm.js JavaScript subset. Rather than replace Java, it’ll simply expand on what was already possible seamlessly, while allowing more direct access to processor instruction sets, and many other benefits.

‘Two upcoming changes will also significantly improve the developer experience. A standard textual representation of WebAssembly will enable developers to view the source of a WebAssembly binary like any other web script or resource. In addition, the current placeholder Wasm object will be redesigned to provide a more powerful, idiomatic set of methods and properties to instantiate and introspect WebAssembly modules from JavaScript.’ said V8 Java, while announcing their collaboration with WebAssembly.

So what does this mean for most users? Not much in technical terms, but it’s already leading to faster performance, more features and more functionality for or browsers and web applications, which is certainly no bad thing.

Play Your NES Games In 3D Thanks To This Emulator

Back before the likes of the Playstation and the Xbox, there was the Nintendo Entertainment System or NES for short. With classic games like Megaman and Super Mario Bros. bringing hours of enjoyment for anyone who played them. The classics can come back with the help of an emulator that lets you play your favourite NES games in 3D.

When it comes to playing old games these days, there is a tear down the middle. Some believe that the old games don’t have enough to keep up with the latest releases, stating that everything from the graphics to the gameplay missing everything that makes them fun. Others believe that a classic is a classic no matter what you do, it would seem that Geod Studios are a company who want to be somewhere in between.

Geod Studios have released a new emulator, titled 3DNES, which not only lets you play the classic Nintendo games but with the added bonus of 3D effects.

The emulator in question can be played from your web browser (provided that you are using Firefox) and means that childhood favourites like Megaman, Dr. Mario and even Castlevania are enjoyable in a whole new light.

Having grown up with these games, you can’t help but appreciate them and the fun they helped create, back then and even now. Giving them the 3D treatment is a nice twist, and is made all the better by the fact it’s been done right. Here’s hoping that Nintendo will take note and support this project!

Mozilla Bans Popular YouTube Unblocker Add-On

One of Firefox’s popular add-ons has been kicked from the repository after repeated bad behavior, and it is unlikely to come back. The YouTube add-on uses a list of proxy servers to circumvent geoblocking of YouTube videos, which in itself is a very useful feature, but one that you’ll have to find another add-on for from now on.

The latest of multiple issues with the popular browser add-on that already accumulated over 250 thousand downloads started last weekend with a user reporting an issue on the Mozilla bug tracker. After installing the add-on, his anti-virus software alarmed him right away that it had blocked a download coming from a third-party website which had been flagged as malware by Avast Anti Virus.

On further examination, the user found out that the add-on was altering the browser settings and disabled the add-on signing feature preventing unauthorized installs, AKA add-ons that haven’t been signed or certificated by Mozilla. After disabling this security feature, the YouTube Unblocker add-on then went on to download another add-on called Adblock Converter from a third-party domain via an unsecured connection, an add-on that is categorized as malware and isn’t to be found in the official add-on library. To make matters even worse, users without proper anti-virus or anti malware solutions wouldn’t even know that this extra add-on was installed as it wouldn’t show up in the about:addons page either and it would reinstall itself again if a user managed to uninstall it in safe mode.

This is far from the first time that this add-on has been under investigation for bad behavior, last time in June 2015 where they were caught circumventing the official guidelines for add-ons with update code that bypassed the official Mozilla review process. Before that, they were caught tampering with search results and sending data back to the company without the users consent or knowledge, even when the user opted out of the feature.

Luckily for users who need a geo-unblocking feature for their Firefox browser, there are plenty of other alternatives to choose from.

Mozilla Release 64bit Firefox

Nearly a decade after the idea was first floated around, Mozilla is finally releasing an official 64bit version of their popular browser. This confirms earlier speculation that the new flavour of the Firefox was going to drop soon. It’s also about 9 months since the first beta version of 64bit debuted and after various forks have already moved to 64bit. With this move, Mozilla brings their browser a bit closer to rival Chrome which had its first 64bit version released back in 2014.

While 64bit support us undoubtedly the biggest feature to come with Version 43, the new version does come with a big drawback. As part of the transition from the supposedly insecure and unstable NPAPI, 64bit Firefox won’t support any plug-ins just yet. Silverlight and ironically, Flash are still supported for now. Even with all the problems with Flash, Mozilla still knows Flash is needed everywhere for now.

This release marks the end of cycle of cancelled and rebooted attempts to get 64bit support. With this, the next major change will be the release of Electrolysis, where it will adapt the multi-process nature that Chrome has been using for ages. Whether or not this will be enough for the browser to shore up flagging usage remains to be seen.

Download the latest version of Firefox here.

Mozilla to Remove Ads From Firefox (Eventually)

Over the last year, Mozilla has been experimenting with integrating ads into its popular browser, Firefox, in an attempt to integrate them into the tiles on new tab page (and presumably earn more revenue). But now, Mozilla’s VP of content services, Darren Herman has released a blog post revealing plans for the advancement of content in Firefox, and this future will no longer include ads.

According to Herman, the decision to move away from providing advertisement is the result of a learning process within the Content Services Team, about what users want from their products and the web. Users wish to experience content that is “relevant, exciting and engaging” and the removal of ads will both allow the space to be used to provide such content, as well as letting the team focus on getting the new systems for content discovery right. This may not be the end of advertisement in Firefox for good, however, with Herman feeling that “Advertising in Firefox could be a great business, but it isn’t the right business for us at this time”.

The ads won’t be gone immediately either, as Mozilla will still honour their commitments and obligations to their existing advertisement partners, with the presence of ads winding down over the coming months.

Mozilla Launches Firefox For iOS

Mozilla’s hesitance to offer their Firefox web browser on iOS devices stems from a bitter disagreement with Apple in 2013. During this period, Apple imposed hefty restrictions which prohibited Mozilla, and other browser makers to use their own rendering engine. As you might expect, Mozilla was outraged by these demands and believed they were completely unfair. However, with the soaring popularity of iOS, Mozilla has changed their approach and accepted Apple’s terms.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HoAtBKmNUEY

Firefox is now available on iOS devices and incorporates a number of useful features including Intelligent Search, and Virtual Tabs. Firefox Accounts also allows you to easily sync passwords, internet history, and auto-complete forms on various systems. Private Browsing is another essential component which provides enhanced protection against data snooping. User privacy is such an important aspect of any modern browser and at the heart of Firefox’s ethos.

Unfortunately, I highly doubt the browser will make any serious impact on iOS as most people just use Safari. There are some exceptions who prefer Chrome, but I can see Firefox’s adoption being in the minority. Nevertheless, it’s a great piece of news if you prefer the Firefox desktop browser and want to continue that experience on an Apple device.

Which browser is your favourite and why?

Firefox 42 Includes Something Called Tracking Protection

Privacy is an ongoing concern these days, particularly when it comes to internet browsing. It looks like Mozilla is trying really hard to address these issues, as it decided to implement something called “Tracking Protection” into the new Firefox 42. Firefox 42 was only recently launched to the public, and apart from including a new control center and an audio indicator that allows the user to mute any music playing tabs, it also features a sort of built-in ad blocking feature that turns on when the user enters “Private Browsing” mode. Dubbed “Tracking Protection,” this feature blocks certain third-party elements that could be used by websites to track and analyze user behavior.

Consequently, advertisers that try to track users will receive no money for impressions because their ads will simply be blocked. However, considering the fact that Firefox is only used by a certain percentage of internet users, these advertisers don’t stand to lose very much, particularly since the feature only applies to private browsing. Interestingly enough, some sources state that Microsoft and Google are not likely to implement similar elements into their own browsers because their businesses are largely based on advertising. Will you give Firefox 42 a try given its latest improvements?

New Firefox Testing Feature Warns Of Insecure Website Password Submission

Consumers are exposed to a myriad of cyber threats which are intent upon harvesting as much information as possible, from bogus emails offering state cash refunds to spoofed pages which purport to be from a genuine vendors, but are in fact aiming to collect sensitive consumer details. Well known and popular browser Mozilla Firefox have recognised the importance of alerting consumers to the security of password submission by offering a simple yet important safeguard within the latest Firefox Nightly build.

The security measure in question is in the form of a faded crossed out padlock icon within the address bar of the browser, thankfully it’s more useful than simply a new icon. The aim of this new feature is to warn consumers if a password field is not submitted over HTTPS and thus regarded as insecure. If a consumer clicks on the icon it will provide further details as to why a particular site is considered insecure, below is an image to convey the change. This feature is currently “only in testing as part of Firefox 44 Nightly”.

This new yet simple feature is a good way of informing consumers as to the risks of submitting a password over an insecure method, cyber security is a hot topic and the more every individual knows the better. It will be interesting to note the rollout timescale of this feature once Firefox confirms it for its finished builds. On a side note, let’s hope consumers actually update their browsers in order to benefit from the latest security fixes, I bet many a reader knows someone who is running a version of Firefox that is at least 10 versions behind that of the currently available.

Image courtesy of technodyan

Mozilla Releases Firefox 41 Containing Integrated IM Functionality

Mozilla has officially unveiled the latest version of Firefox which incorporates an intriguing messaging service called, ‘Hello Beta’. According to Mozilla, this is the world’s first communication tool embedded into a browser which allows users to send and receive messages during a video call. The company said about this latest venture:

“Firefox Hello Beta, developed with our partner Telefónica, is the global communications system built directly into a browser and it will now let you send and receive instant messages when you’re in a video call in Firefox for Windows, Mac and Linux.”

While this might be true, I’m fairly certain other browsers have implemented something similar a long time ago. Also, many users might feel that this could make Firefox take up more system resources and become rather bloated. It’s certainly an interesting addition, but I highly doubt many people are going to use it for an extended period. There has been some confusion regarding this announcement and to clarify, this only works during video calls.

Ideally, I’d love to see Firefox adopt a simple layout without unnecessary features and optimizing RAM usage to make for the most efficient browser out there.

Which browser do you use?

Firefox 41 for Windows, Mac, Linux is now available for download and we’ve included a direct hyperlink for your convenience.

Mozilla Deploys Built-in Firefox Ads

Mozilla has implemented its long-proposed but negatively-received Suggested Tiles feature within Firefox, which effectively inserts Mozilla-approved ads into the browser. First vaunted back in February 2014, Suggested Tiles was put on hold after a negative reaction from Firefox users. Instead of putting the idea to bed, though, Mozilla has quietly deployed it with as little fanfare as possible, presumably hoping users don’t notice.

Mozilla revealed in May 2015 that it hadn’t entirely binned the proposal, with Darren Herman, Mozilla’s VP of Content Services, saying, “Suggested Tiles represents an important step for us to improve the state of digital advertising.”

Suggested Tiles, which has been rolled out to Firefox browsers for the past few weeks, not only shows sponsored links, it tracks user interaction with the browser, sending that raw data to its Disxo analysis engine, which is then converted into a high-level aggregate report that it sends to advertisers. Mozilla claims that is not getting paid for featuring the ads.

“Since early August,” Herman went on to explain, “we have been delivering promoted content provided by our first wave of partners including Yahoo, a number of top tier news titles including Fortune Magazine and Quartz, and mission-oriented partners such as the Make-a-Wish Foundation and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.”

“With Suggested Tiles, we want to show the world that it is possible to do relevant advertising and content recommendations while still respecting users’ privacy and giving them control over their data,” he added.

According to Mozilla, Suggested Tiles records and stores the following user data:

  • Language preference
  • Tile ID
  • How many times the Tile was displayed
  • Where in the grid of tiles a Tile was displayed
  • What interaction the user has with a Tile:
  • “Rolled over”
  • “Hovered over”
  • Pinned
  • Blocked
  • Clicked
  • Moved

“This data is associated with an IP address and is stored for a maximum of seven days, while Mozilla reports on the performance of the Tile. Then the IP address is removed from the data which is then archived. Mozilla does not create a profile of an individual over time,” a Mozilla representative said.

Will this move scare away the remaining Firefox users, or put off people considering migrating to Firefox?

Thank you ZDNet for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

Microsoft Discouraging Users From Downloading Competing Browsers

Microsoft is aggressively pushing the Edge browser in Windows 10 and trying to prevent users from downloading an alternative such as Chrome, Firefox or Opera. By default, Windows 10 only includes Microsoft products such as Edge or Internet Explorer 11 and you have to use Bing to procure a different browser. If you search for any other leading browser, a message pops up and proclaims, “Microsoft recommends Microsoft Edge for Windows 10,” and contains a “Learn why” button next to that message which directs you to a website outlining Edge’s feature set. In lieu of these revelations, Microsoft issued a statement which reads:

“Microsoft Edge was designed exclusively for Windows 10 with features and functionality that enhance the browsing experience such as Cortana, Web Note and Quick answers,”  

“These notifications were created to provide people with quick, easy information that can help them get to know these experiences better. That said, with Windows 10 you can easily choose the default browser and search engine of your choice.”

This kind of advertising isn’t limited to Microsoft as Google often argues the benefits of using Chrome. Although, EU courts have come down quite strong on Microsoft for pushing their browser.  In 2013, Microsoft were fined £481 million by a European court for engaging in anti-competitive behaviour. Originally, Microsoft divulged information about other web browsers to stop Internet Explorer’s unfair monopoly. However, this feature magically disappeared after a Windows 7 update. Microsoft argued this was due to a technical error. Whatever the case, it seems Microsoft is once again pushing their own browser and could be misconstrued as being unfair to the competiton. On another note, I’m not entirely convinced the notification will make any user refrain from downloading a competing product.

Thank you Venturebeat for providing us with this information.

Data from Hacked Bug Database used to Target Firefox Users

Using data and information obtained through another hack, hackers were able to target Mozilla Firefox users through vulnerabilities in the popular browser. What is most interesting about this whole debacle, however, was that the attackers first hacked Bugzilla, Mozilla’s bug and vulnerability tracking system to find working exploits.

Bug trackers and vulnerability databases serve important roles in maintaining secure software. As researchers and whitehats find and discover bugs and vulnerabilities, they report it to either a third party or directly to the vendor. In this case, it was through Bugzilla to Mozilla. This allows a common platform to share the information required to demonstrate and fix the bug. Even if there is no outside facing infrastructure to report bugs, more developers probably have their own internal system for keeping up with, detailing and cataloguing bugs. For widely popular software, an attacker may not need to spend time researching their own zer0-days. Instead, they can simply hit one of these bug repositories and grab a whole host of vulnerabilities and use them as needed before they are patched.

In this case, Bugzilla got hit via as a privileged user account had the same password for Bugzilla as on another site that got hacked. Due to this, attackers were able to break into Bugzilla undetected for at least a year. They managed to get away with 185 non-public vulnerabilities of which 10 were unpatched at the time. Given how many users tend not to patch, and that Mozilla is unsure when the attackers first got in, it’s possible many users were vulnerable. In fact, one of the vulnerabilities was exploited widely for a while. In response, Mozilla is implementing steps to shore up security by things like restricting access and two-factor authentication.

Once again, it shows that security can be pretty hard and even systems introduced to better protect users can severely backfire. Given the wealth of information stored within bug repositories on various vulnerabilities, they can become a juicy target for blackhats. Just like major retailers and  the recent US government data breaches, the sensitive information means these systems are guaranteed to be attacked at some point. Another major lesson is that if you want good security, not reusing passwords, keeping patched and using two-factor authentication is key.

Firefox On iOS? There’s A Catch With That!

Mozilla Firefox have deployed new ways of attracting a bigger share of the browser-based market, now, users of iPhones and iPads who would like an alternative to their current mobile browsers might have found one, as Mozilla is going to begin rolling out the first public preview version of the popular and well-recognised browser for iOS. Sounds good, slight problem with that, you may need your passport.

Mozilla is aiming to garner public opinion and feedback in order to develop the software for the Apple platform, ready to immediately test drive the software? Good, I take it you do reside in New Zealand. Yep, Firefox in their blog post have stated that “we will be collecting feedback in one country, before we extend availability to get feedback in a few more countries prior to a full public launch” Did Mozilla throw a dart to determine which country would receive the preview first?

So, what features will the good folks in New Zealand have available to them? The preview release features include,

  • Intelligent Search – Which provides suggested search results and the choice of search providers
  • Firefox accounts – take your Firefox browser history, passwords and tabs from your desktop to your iOS devices.
  • Tabs – Visual Tabs, an intuitive way to keep track of your open tabs

If you’re a Kiwi and would like Firefox on iOS, then by all means test the first preview, if you’re not a Kiwi but would like to try the software, you will have to wait until Mozilla throws another dart to decide the next country to be rewarded with the version.

Thank you mozilla blog for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of wmpoweruser

Firefox Set to Become More Like Chrome

Mozilla is set to implement a number of changes to its Firefox internet browser that will make it more like Google Chrome. Though the revisions will make Firefox more secure and stable, as well as making Chrome apps, extensions, and add-ons available for the browser, it will strip away many of the customisable features and increase its memory demands, no doubt infuriating long-term Firefox users in the process.

According to a Mozilla blog post today, Firefox will adopt the WebExtensions API, which will make it easier for developers to create apps that are compatible with Firefox, Chrome, and Opera, while also integrating Electrolysis to handle background content processing and the Rust-coded Servo technology.

Regarding the scope of the changes, Mozilla writes:

The strategy announced here necessarily involves a lot of trade-offs. Developers who already support Chrome extensions will benefit since they will have one codebase to support instead of two. Developers of Firefox-only add-ons will have to make changes. Those changes may require considerable development effort up-front, but we feel the end result will be worth that effort for both Firefox’s users and developers.

Firefox isn’t the first browser to lose its identity. The Opera browser, though far from popular, was well-respected for its speed and advanced user features. In 2013, however, Opera ditched its Presto engine in favour of Chromium, becoming little more than a stripped-down Chrome clone in the process.

A preview release of WebExtensions is included with Firefox 42, with a full roll-out set to occur in the near future.

Thank you Mozilla for providing us with this information.

Amazon Bans Flash Adverts on Its Own Domains

Amazon has updated the terms of its Technical Guidelines to prohibit any advert on Amazon-branded sites using Adobe’s Flash protocol. The change will commence on the 1st September and Amazon explained their reasoning in an introductory post:

“Beginning September 1, 2015, Amazon no longer accepts Flash ads on Amazon.com, AAP, and various IAB standard placements across owned and operated domains.”

“This is driven by recent browser setting updates from Google Chrome, and existing browser settings from Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari, that limits Flash content displayed on web pages.”

“This change ensures customers continue to have a positive, consistent experience across Amazon and its affiliates, and that ads displayed across the site function properly for optimal performance.”

This is a clear message from one of the leading online giants to universally drop Flash support across web pages, browsers and other applications. Flash can cause a myriad of stability issues and HTML5 has proven to be a far superior replacement. Amazon clearly feels the conflict between browser settings and Flash content is creating a sub-par shopping experience and could deter users from purchasing on the Amazon store. Frustratingly, Chrome embeds Flash by default but you can download Chromium or Firefox as an alternative.

Thankfully, it seems the Flash is now on the target radar of influential web companies and could become obsolete in the near future.

Have you ever experienced any issues with Adobe Flash?

Mozilla Firefox 40 Released

Firefox’s existence has been somewhat rocky over the past few years, from the browser market becoming more competitive with the increased competition from Google Chrome to Microsoft’s new Edge browser, to the irritated reaction from Mozilla’s CEO who has rallied against Windows 10 over how consumers select a default browser.

So what does the latest incarnation of Firefox have in store for consumers? Well, Firefox 40 is out today (11th August 2015) which sees mostly under the hood improvements. These include enhanced compatibility with Windows 10, although previous versions do work with the new OS, this is more moving the browser in line with touchscreen devices and includes “close” buttons on tabs which are now bigger and the address bar also has bigger fonts. It has also revised tabstrips and toolbars plus a custom Windows 10 theme.

Other key changes include an improved and expanded malware detection feature in Firefox, which is able to identify malware downloads in all supported platforms as well as warn users about potentially unwanted software. Users can also receive suggested titles in the new tab page based on categories Firefox matches to browsing history. Improved scrolling, graphics, and video playback performance with off main thread compositing (GNU/Linux only) and a Graphic blocklist mechanism improved: Firefox version ranges can also be specified, limiting the number of devices blocked, and smoother animation and scrolling with hardware vsync (Windows only)

Warnings for unsigned extensions will be displayed and they’ll be blocked completely in Firefox 41

As for security, the below image illustrates what has been fixed in Firefox 40,

This update will be rolled out within the next day or so within the standard methods, Firefox might also need to revise the new version naming, otherwise it won’t be long before we reach Firefox 100 and above.

Thank You Firefox Notes for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Fanpop

Hackers Find Serious 0day Vulnerability in Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla got word this Wednesday that a severe Firefox 0day vulnerability was being exploited by an ad on a Russian website. Although the company was swift in delivering a fix, they are now urging users to check that they are running version 39.0.3 or later to prevent hackers from gaining access to their sensitive data.

It looks like the vulnerability affected a non-privileged part of Firefox’s built-in PDF viewer, where hackers were able to inject JavaScript files. Since they are in the same origin policy as the local browser, hackers could then have the script search and upload data to a server located in Ukraine, as sources indicate.

Security specialists found that the exploit mainly targeted developer-focused content, though it was released to the general audience. However, the attack seems pretty neat because you can have a large number of audience on the website, but have data transferred from browsers with significant relevance. The guys looking into the hack found that it did not leave traces of it behind, which means that even experienced users may be unaware if they have been the victim of a hack or not.

Though the hack affected only Windows and Linux systems, Mac users should also be on guard, since the hack can also be modified to target Macintosh OS’ too.

Thank you Sci-Tech Today for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Mozilla CEO Furious Over Windows 10

Even with the addition of the wonderful, stripped-down, and super-quick Edge browser, many Windows 10 users will still prefer to stick to their usual default internet browser, whether that’s Chrome, Opera, or Firefox. While that is still possible with Microsoft’s new operating system, users who have upgraded to Windows 10 will find that their previous default will revert to Edge automatically. A couple of button clicks allow you to change back, so no drama. Unless your name is Chris Beard and you happen to be the CEO of Mozilla, creator of the Firefox browser, that is.

The world is full of open letters, and that is exactly the medium that Beard has chosen to express his ire that users’ choice of browser is being ignored, and that Microsoft should cease imposing Edge by default for future upgraders.

Addressing his open letter directly to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Beard says:

“I am writing to you about a very disturbing aspect of Windows 10. Specifically, that the update experience appears to have been designed to throw away the choice your customers have made about the Internet experience they want, and replace it with the Internet experience Microsoft wants them to have.

When we first saw the Windows 10 upgrade experience that strips users of their choice by effectively overriding existing user preferences for the Web browser and other apps, we reached out to your team to discuss this issue. Unfortunately, it didn’t result in any meaningful progress, hence this letter.”

Since the “problem” is easily correctable, this open letter seems less about challenging a great injustice and more about getting Firefox’s name in the press on the back of the Windows 10 wave. And I’ve just helped him. You’re welcome, Chris.

Thank you The Mozilla Blog for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Mozilla.

Google Chrome Starts Blocking Torrent Sites

Since yesterday, Google’s Chrome browser has begun blocking torrent websites, including Torrentz, ExtraTorent, RARBG, and the popular KickAss Torrents, flagging them as containing “harmful programs”.

When users attempt to visit the URL, a red banner bars access, warning that “The site ahead contains harmful programs,” and that “Attackers on [URL] might attempt to trick you into installing programs that harm your browsing experience (for example, by changing your homepage or showing extra ads on sites you visit).”

The owners of the websites have no idea why they have been flagged, other than the suspicion that the controversial sites have been deliberately censored, a number of which have spoken to TorrentFreak. RARBG’s operator told the site, “I hope Google comes to its senses and actually allows webmasters to see what the issue is in their webmasters tools.”

The team from ExtraTorrent were equally confused, saying, “There is no malicious software and you are still able to load ExtraTorrent in Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Chromium and other browsers. We’ll contact Google to resolve the issue shortly.”

Chrome users that wish to bypass the message when accessing torrent sites can disable the browser’s malware warnings.

Google has refused to comment, instead directing queries to a recent blog post.

Recent reports suggest that a similar restriction of access to torrent sites has started to occur with Mozilla’s Firefox browser, too.

Thank you TorrentFreak for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

Google’s Covert Snooping Tool Installed Without User Consent

Google’s reputation with privacy advocates is pretty abysmal and the latest revelation that audio footage has been monitored on PCs without permission will do little to improve matters. Open source developers noticed a peculiar line of code via the Chromium browser which analyzes background noise. In theory, this technology is implemented to offer rudimentary voice commands when the end user proclaims, “OK Google”. While this might add convenience to slower typists or people with impaired eyesight, it is designed to be an optional extra. In a developer blog post, a Google representative clarified, “First and foremost, while we do download the hotword module on startup, we *do not* activate it unless you opt into hotwording. If you go into “chrome://settings”, you will see a checkbox “Enable “Ok Google” to start a voice search”. This should be unchecked by default, and if you do not check it, the hotword module will not be started”.

There has been some contrasting evidence from irate developers who claim the software is enabled without user permission and contravenes the Chromium’s Open source ethos. Ofer Zelig is a vocal example and shared his personal experience:

“Google says the module is there so the browser could respond to “OK Google”. But what if I don’t want it at all? why injecting such a privacy-sensitive module in the first place instead of asking me whether I deliberately want this feature?”

Thankfully, under growing pressure from developers and privacy commentators, Google has now removed the speech module from Chromium recognizing that the inclusion couldn’t be classified as a piece of Open source code. It’s difficult to deduce if the automatic monitoring behavior was intentional or Google simply underestimated the widespread privacy concerns. Clearly, Google isn’t a trustworthy company when it comes to data sharing and it will take a miracle for industry peers and consumers to begin sharing information at ease.

WebAssembly Hopes To Increase Browser Speed Up To 20X

Chrome, Internet Explorer, Opera, Firefox and Safari. These are the five big names when it comes to web browsing, and each of these comes with both their own strengths and their weaknesses. Engineers at Google, Microsoft, Apple and Mozilla however are putting their arms down and working together to create WebAssembly, a piece of code that looks to speed up web browsing up to 20 times.

The concept behind WebAssembly is that is will be closer to machine level code (a series of numeric codes) than it is to higher level languages (such as Java, C#, Python, ext..). With a lower level language the aim is that both desktop and mobile browsers will be able to read it quicker than your average web page.

While most pages currently use Javascript to create functionality and dynamic code, bytecode based systems are made to be faster. With the hope that once developed the language could be used as an industry standard, the results could see your web browsing being more similar to loading up and running apps than waiting for that page to load.

Currently, the plan is to use a filler to convert WebAssembly to Javascript to support browsers that don’t have WebAssembly compatibility.

Being able to browse the internet at 20 times its current speed would greatly reduce how much time people have to wait in your average day and with companies like Mozilla, Apple, Google and Microsoft taking the helm you know that they are serious about trying to get this technology developed. Personally………PLEASE WAIT WHILE LOADING

Thank you Ars Technica for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Microsoft.

YouTube Live Streaming Now Available With HTML5 and 60FPS Support

It looks like the old Flash Player is going to be scrapped sooner than expected. After enabling support for HTML5 video playback, YouTube is now extending that support to live streaming sessions. This means that users can now watch live streaming videos on HTML5-enabled browsers and at 60FPS!

The slow process looks to have started late last year, when every video uploaded on the streaming service could keep its 60FPS ratio. Up until October last year, all videos were automatically converted to 30FPS once uploaded. In addition to the latter, YouTube quietly made HTML5 its default player early this year, so it would make sense for the company to continue towards fully integrating the HTML5 player.

The technology is now widely supported in all major browsers like Firefox, Opera, Chrome, Safari and even Internet Explorer. However, YouTube stated that the HTML5 playback for live streaming is still undergoing development, so don’t expect it to do miracles just yet. Still, the technology now is able to deliver 720p or 1080p at 60FPS and users can even skip backwards in a live stream or even play around with its play speed.

Let’s not forget about the hardware here. I mean as good as HTML5 player sounds, it still needs some hardware specs to have it run at 60FPS. This is why YouTube comes with an option to change playback to 30FPS, should 60FPS be too much for your device. Nevertheless, we are moving towards a 4K video playback era, so it’s likely everyone will upgrade their hardware sooner or later.

Thank you VentureBeat for providing us with this information

Mozilla Protests Against France’s New Mass Surveillance Law

In a post on its blog, Mozilla has expressed its deep concern over the French National Assembly’s Projet de Loi Relatif au Renseignement, a new law which legitimises mass surveillance though the installation of “black boxes” among telecommunications operators devices. Mozilla, developer of the Firefox internet browser, says that “the bill threatens the integrity of Internet infrastructure, user privacy, and data security.”

According to the blog post, the surveillance bill authorises French intelligence services to:

  • Pervasively monitor and store user communications, metadata, and Web activity about all users in France and abroad;
  • Force Internet service providers (and potentially other technology companies) to install “black boxes” in their networks to collect massive amounts of data and use algorithms to search for “suspicious patterns”;
  • Intercept user communications, including reading emails and tapping phones, without meaningful due process or oversight; and
  • compromise Internet infrastructure in France and extraterritorially.

The bill came as a surprise to many, since France was one of the founding members of was a founding member of the Freedom Online Coalition, which was designed to stand against infringement on internet users’ rights, something that this surveillance bill spits upon.

Mozilla ends its blog post by saying, “we call on France, as an international leader in upholding human rights around the world, to set a positive example for other governments rather than continuing on a course of eroding protections for users and undermining the open Internet.”

Image courtesy of FreeVector.

Firefox Users Can Now Stream Netflix Without a Plugin

Firefox users will no longer be required to download the Microsoft Silverlight plugin if they are wanting to watch Netflix through their browsers. The newest version of Firefox integrates Adobe Content Decryption Module (CDM), which is needed to stream from Netflix on HTML 5.

For a long time now Mozilla has been anti-DRM due to their open-source philosophy, but it seems now they are bending to the demand of users by including the Adobe Content Decryption Module. They haven’t forgotten their roots though as they also have a non-CDM version of Firefox that users can download if they don’t want any additional DRM in their browsers. This may help Firefox gain some users since there are so many who currently stream Netflix through their browsers. It seems like they are wanting to capitalize on part of that user base that wants to move away from Chrome or another browser. There are millions of Netflix users around the world with more customers joining every day so even gaining a small percentage would help grow the Firefox user base.

Now the only problem for users with Netflix is what to watch and how long they will have to wait for the second season of Daredevil to drop so they can binge watch it in one sitting.

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Firefox 37 to Encrypt Non-HTTPS Traffic

Mozilla is making great strides towards making user experience as secure as possible, and with the release of Firefox 37 it brings HTTP encryption, without a need for HTTPS, the standard security layer for communications protocol encryption.

The latest iteration of Firefox achieves this thanks to what is known as opportunistic encryption. To achieve this, Firefox will route port 80 requests not sent in cleartext to a port that the server administrator can choose, so long as the server supports HTTP/2 protocol and specify the AltSvc header.

It’s not the most secure method of encrypting data, since it can still be vulnerable to targeted attacks, but it is certainly better than nothing, and is safe enough for everyday internet browsing.

Other additions to Firefox 37 include HTML5 playback and WebGL rendering improvements, using HTTPS for Bing searches, and strengthened protection against site impersonation via OneCRL centralised certificate revocation.

Source: FavBrowser

Google Targets Firefox Users with Special Warnings

Mozilla users will soon see a new message in Google’s search engine urging them to switch their default search engine to Google. Users can also choose to ignore the message and hide it until clearing the browser’s cache by pressing the “No, Thanks” button.

This comes as a result of Mozilla changing its default search engine to Yahoo! in November 2014. Default search contracts are the main route to monetizing third-party browsers. Search providers like Google and Yahoo pay browser-makers tens, or even hundreds of millions of dollars for the unique access, as it is a major driver of search traffic from modern browsers.

Firefox has been working with Google as its default search engine since 2004, but the recent change terminated the long partnership with the top web search engine. Google’s new popups make it clear that the company isn’t happy with the shift and it’s also clear that it considers Firefox search traffic a primary target. Firefox is the third most-used personal computer browser after Google’s Chrome browser and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

Thank you Daily Tech for providing us with this information