Very few open source projects in the world enjoy a better reputation and longevity than Firefox. It could possibly be even more famous than Linux and, before the mobile market was dominated by Linux through Android, it probably was the open source software with the most users in the world.
Firefox has earned that by working hard in producing and maintaining a product of the highest quality (it’s become the industry standard, despite the savage and unfair competition it faced from Microsoft in the past) that’s always up to date and ready to meet the new challenges of an environment that moves forward at unprecedented speeds.
And once again, Firefox has shown that it cares for users’ concerns and that it’s ready to keep up the web’s new challenges. How so? The browser’s anti-tracking feature will now be able to block fingerprinting and cryptocurrency-mining scripts adding an extra layer of security, which is now directed at abuses from the cryptosphere.
And this isn’t happening a moment too soon either. In-browser digital assets mining scripts have been something of a frequent complaint among users for quite a bit of time now. It happens when hackers or fishy websites find a way of installing a mining script into your browser without your knowledge or authorization. Once the script is in place, it uses your computer’s GPU to mine a specific cryptocurrency.
And no you don’t get any tokens from that. On the contrary, you get your resources drained (which is particularly intrusive d if we’re talking about a laptop running on a battery). These bugs slow your computer down, discharge your battery more rapidly, and basically transfer all the mining costs to you while the hackers get all the benefits.
Firefox is the first browser to address this issue specifically (nope, no other project in the industry has done nothing about this so far). The new feature bans cryptocurrency mining scripts specifically.
Fingerprinting is every bit as bad for users too. What it does is to take a snapshot of your computer’s overall configuration. Because every user’s computer is unique in the software it uses, its hardware specifications, this allows hackers to track you on the web at any moment even if you delete your cookies or are supposedly “safe” by other standards.
The Mozilla team worked closely with the internet security company Disconnect. Using their combined expertise, both teams were able to come up with a list of domains which are known for fingerprinting users and installing mining scripts surreptitiously. Both security problems can now be neutralized by enabling the new features in the Firefox Content Blocking suite. Mozilla was clear in that the new features will be enabled by default for all users in upcoming releases.
The new features are on the trial stage right now. A small group of selected beta testers is thoroughly observing how the new security measures work. Chances are that the “blacklist” will grow and users can help improve it by reporting malicious sites.
Mozilla aims to create a complete database of websites involved in these practices and make sure that they do not mess up Firefox’s users’ computers.
Image courtesy of Pixabay.