The latest version of Mozilla’s web browser – Firefox 14.0.1 – has added a few new security features.
The most interesting change in my view is the fact that all searches on Google will now be encrypted by default, even if the user hasn’t elected to use the secure search tool.
As Mozilla said on their blog yesterday,
“We automatically make your Google searches secure in Firefox to protect your data from potentially prying eyes, like network administrators when you use public or shared WiFi networks. Google is currently the only search engine that allows Firefox to make your searches private, but we look forward to supporting additional search engines with this feature in the future.”
When this feature is enabled your Google searches will be sent via the HTTPs protocol which will prevent the bad guys from being able to sniff out your queries over open wireless networks.
Also in this release, the address bar has been updated to make it clearer who the owner of a site is and the connection status will now be made more obvious too. If you visit a site using HTTPs then the padlock icon of old will be seen again. Additionally, any site employing extended validation SSL certificates will lead to your browser showing a green indicator.
Lastly, there is also the introduction of silent updates (originally slated for release in version 15 of the browser). This will allow Firefox to update itself automatically without having to go through the User Account Control dialogue box. You’ll have to enable this feature manually during the installation (you can toggle it on or off later if you wish) but this feature may well pay dividends to those of you who forget to keep everything on your computer updated all of the time.
Overall I think these are both a good move though not everyone thinks so – see the second comment (from Brian) on Sid Stamm’s post, Rolling Out HTTPS Google search and make your own mind up.