Tag Archive | "Firefox"

Popular Google, FireFox Extension Is Secretly Tracking User Activity

A popular browser extension that helps personalize how a website looks has been found to be tracking user activity. The revelation has pushed Google and Mozilla to remove the Stylish browser extension from their app stores. However, the extension’s official website still remains active.

Software engineer Robert Heaton claimed in a blog post that the Stylish extension tool steals a user’s internet history and sends information about a person’s browsing history and distinct identifiers to SimilarWeb, the extension’s owner. According to Heaton, this will allow the company to “connect all of an individual’s actions into a single profile.”

Heaton further explained that Stylish account holders typically have a unique identifier that can be linked to a login cookie. This will then provide SimilarWeb with enough information to “theoretically tie these histories to email addresses and real-world identities.”

Stylish is an open-source browser extension that gives users the capability to change how a website appears on their browser. With it, users can make websites look brighter and campier. They can also go for a brooding, darker theme or choose popular manga or cartoon characters to add to the website.

SimilarWeb’s 2017 formal policy does indicate that the extension collates anonymous data. But what Heaton is protesting is the identifier that the extension attaches to the said information before it’s sent to the company servers. He said this leaves the account holder vulnerable to hackers.

SimilarWeb has already denied these allegations and claimed that they are “not aware of and cannot determine the identity of the users from whom the non-personal information is collected.”

Google and Mozilla have since removed the extension from its Chrome and FireFox browsers. The former has not explained its decision to cut off Stylish while the latter said that they blocked the extension due to violation of data practices.

Users utilizing Stylish on their web browsers would no longer be able to access its features. However, the extension remains active online.

[Featured image via Pixabay]

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Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox Leaked Facebook User Data Caused by Browser Vulnerability

Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox might have inadvertently leaked the Facebook usernames, profile pictures and even the likes of their users because of a side-channel vulnerability.

A side-channel vulnerability was discovered in a CSS3 feature dubbed the “mix-blend-mode.” This allowed a hacker to discover the identity of a Facebook account holder using Chrome or Firefox by getting them to visit a specially-designed website.

This critical flaw was discovered in 2017 by security researchers Dario Weißer and Ruslan Habalov and also by independent researcher Max May.

The researchers created a proof-of-concept (POC) exploit to show how the vulnerability could be misused. Weißer and Habalov’s concept showed how they were able to visually harvest data like username, profile picture, and “like” status of a user. What’s more, this insidious hack could be accomplished in the background when the user visits a malicious website.

The visual leak could happen on sites using iFrames that connect to Facebook in via login buttons and social plugins. Due to a security feature called the “same-origin policy,” sites can’t directly access iFrame content. But the researchers were able to get the information by developing an overlay on the cross-origin iFrame in order to work with the underlying pixels.

It took Habalov and Weißer’s POC about 20 seconds to get the username and about five minutes to create a vague copy of the profile picture. The program also took about 500 milliseconds to check the “like” status. Keep in mind, however, that for this vulnerability to work, the user should be logged into their Facebook account.

Habalov and Weißer privately notified both Google and Mozilla and steps were taken to contain the threat. Google was able to fix the flaw on their end when version 63 was released last December. On Firefox’s end, a patch was made available 14 days ago with the release of the browser’s version 60. The delay was due to the researchers’ late disclosure of their findings to Mozilla.

IE and Edge browsers weren’t exposed to the side-channel exploit as they don’t support the needed feature. Safari was also safe from the flaw.

[Featured image via Pixabay]

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Firefox Moves Closer to Password-Free Browsers

On Wednesday, Mozilla released its Firefox 60 browser, moving a step closer to password-free login for several websites. Equipped with WebAuthn, this new standard in authentication technology does away with several passwords to reduce phishing attacks.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and FIDO Alliance jointly developed WebAuthn, which has been years in the making. It is a secure login standard that relies on physical authentication devices, such as biometrics and USB tokens, instead of passwords to grant website access. That’s because reliance on passwords has been identified as one of the “weakest links” in web security.

Passwords have been the de facto method of logging in anywhere on the Internet. However, it gets problematic when login credentials are re-used on multiple websites. And even with combinations of characters, uppercase and numbers, passwords often do not provide sufficient cybersecurity. Using phishing scams, criminals have resorted to creating fake websites to weasel out login details and personal information from unsuspecting users.

Tech experts pointed out that passwords will still be relevant, and a post-password future is still far from happening. Fortunately, WebAuthn is a nudge towards making sites more secure and resistant to data breaches and password theft.

Physical authentication keys are nothing new as numerous tech firms with the need for tight cybersecurity already have their own drivers in place. The type of authentication is currently implemented on Google and Facebook and allows easy login through a YubiKey token. As an open-source code with commonly available libraries, WebAuthn lets other developers implement password-free logins across the web.   

Although Mozilla is the first to come out with the WebAuthn support, Google and Microsoft will add the function to their updated flagship browsers in the coming months. The move is expected to be an improvement to web authentication, compared to prior attempts. Moreover, WebAuthn is capable of supporting older authentication hardware so early adopters don’t have to go back to square one.

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Yahoo parent sues Mozilla for replacing it with Google as Firefox default search

Mozilla countersues and says that poor Yahoo search quality caused Firefox to lose market share.

The post Yahoo parent sues Mozilla for replacing it with Google as Firefox default search appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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Mozilla Launches Firefox Quantum, Poses Real Threat to Google Chrome

Mozilla has been quietly sitting on the sidelines for a while now, content to slowly work on improving Firefox. But the release of the Firefox Quantum shows that the company is now ready to join the big league once again and take on Google’s Chrome.

Mozilla unveiled the new and improved version 57 of Firefox on Tuesday, claiming that the browser is now twice as fast as before. The company also revealed a new user interface (UI) that looks decidedly minimalist.

According to Mozilla executive Mark Mayo, the latest update is the biggest one they’ve rolled out since the company launched Firefox 1.0 in 2004. It’s also the apex of six years worth of research and development, as well as engineering work that ran for about a year and a half.

The Firefox Quantum touts a revamped rendering engine along with a new CSS layout engine. The engine and other components are written in Rust, a programming language developed by Mozilla’s own research group with the goal of increasing speed. Mozilla also claims that Quantum uses 30% less memory than Chrome and that it has been designed to meet the needs of people who surf the internet by switching from various tabs.

Firefox’s release notes also listed changes in active tab prioritization, a switch-over from legacy add-ons to those developed via the WebAssembly API, and Pocket integration. The reworked browser is also sporting a new UI, its first redesign since Firefox 4. The changes in the browser’s UI and UX (user experience) puts significant emphasis on giving it a speed boost.

It’s clear that the new UI compliments the austere look that rivals Edge and Chrome sport. Firefox Quantum integrates the search and address bars in a bid to reduce the clutter usually found on top of the window. A revamped new tab page was also revealed.  

Users in Canada, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the U.S, also quickly noticed that Mozilla has foregone using Yahoo as its default search engine. Instead, the company has reverted back to using Google, its partner and main financier before the two companies had a falling out in 2014. However, Firefox will continue using its default search engine in other countries. For instance, China will still be using Baidu while Belarus and Russia will continue using Yandex.

Mozilla is hoping that the changes Firefox Quantum carries will be more than enough to challenge Chrome and other browsers. But it’s admittedly an uphill battle at the moment. However, Firefox’s stance to be tech neutral and the groundwork it has laid down can make Mozilla’s bid to return to the top easier.

[Featured image via Mozilla]

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Mozilla Firefox Announces End to Support for Windows XP and Vista

Pretty soon, you’ll stop receiving updates for your Firefox browser if you’re running Windows XP or Vista. Mozilla recently announced that it will be dropping support for the two platforms by next year.

In a company blog post, Mozilla announced that it plans to drop support for its Firefox browser for users running on the two operating systems after June 2018.  “As one of the few browsers that continues to support Windows XP and Vista, Firefox users on these platforms can expect security updates until that date,” the company explained, adding that “users do not need to take additional action to receive those updates.”

Microsoft retired support for XP in April 2014 while Vista was retired in April 2017. This means that Microsoft no longer gives security updates for the two outdated operating systems but third-party developers like Firefox can still continue to support their products running on the two platforms.

Last year, Mozilla announced that they have moved users still running on Windows XP and Vista to Firefox Extended Support Release (ESR). This means that Firefox users running on the outdated Microsoft operating systems still be safe until June 26, 2018, since ESR version 52 will still receive a scheduled updated on May 1, 2018, according to ComputerWorld. The next security update after that is already scheduled on June 26, 2018, which will no longer include support for XP and Vista users.

Thus, Mozilla is urging the affected users to upgrade to newer versions of Windows supported by Microsoft. Running on the unsupported operating systems is unsafe especially since they already have known vulnerabilities that may be exploited.

Mozilla has not released the figures on how many Firefox users are still using the outdated Microsoft systems. However, Net Applications said that the combined Vista and XP users only form 6.12 percent of the total market share, a figure deemed low enough to justify discontinuing Mozilla’s support.

[Featured Image via Mozilla]

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Mozilla’s Firefox Quantum Aims to Dethrone Google Chrome as Fastest Internet Browser

Google Chrome, the leading U.S. browser at the moment, is about to face some serious competition up ahead. Mozilla just unveiled an improved version of its browser called the Firefox Quantum touted to be drastically faster than its predecessor and offering browsing speeds said to even surpass that of Chrome.

During the late 2000’s, Mozilla Firefox had one of the fastest user growth among Internet browsers according to Forbes. Unfortunately, the browser’s growth lost steam and is now lagging behind rivals Google Chrome and Apple Safari. Chrome is currently leading the pack in the U.S. with a market share of 44.5 percent followed by Safari at 25.4 percent. Firefox, in the meantime, only managed to secure a 7.4 percent share.

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Restoring Firefox Extensions After The Firefox 43 Update

Firefox recently updated to version 43 & with that, they automatically disabled all extensions which are not signed, even if they were previously installed by a user and used for years.

If you go to the add ons screen after the update (by typing about:addons in the address bar) you will see a screen like this

Extensions which are submitted to the Mozilla Firefox add ons directory are automatically signed when approved, but other extensions are not by default:

Only Mozilla can sign your add-on so that Firefox will install it by default. Add-ons are signed by submitting them to AMO or using the API and passing either an automated or manual code review. Note that you are not required to list or distribute your add-on through AMO. If you are distributing the add-on on your own, you can choose the Unlisted option and AMO will only serve as the way to get your package signed.

In a couple days we will do that submission to get the add ons signed, but if you recently had the extensions go away it is fairly easy to override this signing feature to get the extensions back working right away.

If you recently saw rank checker, SEO for Firefox or the SEO toolbar disabled after a recent Mozilla Firefox update, here is how to restore them…

Step 1: go to the Firefox settings configuration section

Type about:config into the address bar & hit enter. Once that page loads click on the “I’ll be careful, I promise” button.

Step 2: edit the signing configuration

Once the configuration box loads you’ll see a bunch of different listed variables in it & a search box at the top. In that search box, enter
xpinstall.signatures.required

By default xpinstall.signatures.required is set to TRUE to force add ons to be signed. Click on it until it goes to bold, which indicates that the TRUE setting is set to FALSE.

Step 3: restart Firefox

After changing the add on signature settings, restart Firefox to apply the setting & your Firefox extensions will be restored.

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SearchCap: Google FireFox Notice, AdWords Speeds Up Data, Cortana On iOS & Android

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

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Google Suggesting Firefox Users Change Their Search Engine & Home Page

Yahoo won the deal to be the default search engine in Firefox in November; now after losing some search share, Google’s fighting back.

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