As more people use the internet, their lives are like open books to the public, with many disregarding the security and privacy features being implemented by the online services they use. But browsers are the main portals we use in connecting to the interwebs, so no matter how secure online services are, if your browser isn’t secure, you’re like a sitting duck.
Good thing browsers are smarting up, offering more privacy and security solutions for their users. So let’s look at some of the latest offerings from top browsers.
Mozilla announced that Firefox 14 is now available for download. The browser has new features that makes browsing more secure for their users, while providing developers support for the Pointer Lock API that allows applications, including first-person games, to have better mouse control.
The Secure Google Search comes by default, announced back in May when Firefox 14 moved to the Aurora channel. It protects user data from prying eyes, like network administrators, when using public or shared WiFi networks by using an SSL-encrypted HTTPS address by default. Google is the first and currently the only search engine that allowed Firefox to making searches private, but the company is working on getting additional search engine support.
Firefox now also supports native fullscreen mode on OS X Lion 10.7 for a better experience with videos and Web games like Mozilla’s BrowserQuest.
Google’s Safe Browsing Team – the one responsible in keeping your searches and downloads clean and your online information secure, recently informed the public that online threats, such as phishing, is exponentially increasing. Google Online Security stated on their bog post that they find as much as 9,500 malicious website every day, send malware warnings for about 300 thousand downloads per day, and show compromised site warning to around 12-14 million user search queries per day. In short, if you find your system compromised, Google isn’t the one to blame – users often disregard their warnings.
In line with their findings, they’re upping the ante in the fight against malicious entities on the internet. Starting with the Chrome 21 beta, Google will be locking down the ability to install extensions from any site. Google is now advising extension developers to host their extension files on the Chrome Web Store, where codes are validated and checked by Google for security. Developers will still have an install button on their site even if the files are hosted in the Chrome Web Store via inline installation. So users attempting to install non-Chrome Web Store hosted files will get a warning which states the dangers of installing an untrusted file.
“Starting in Chrome 21, it is more difficult to install extensions, apps, and user scripts from outside the Chrome Web Store,” according to the Google Chromium page.”Previously, users could click on a link to a *.crx file, and Chrome would offer to install the file after a few warnings. After Chrome 21, such files must be downloaded and dragged onto the Chrome settings page.”
Microsoft is getting mixed reviews for their Do Not Track feature, which will be turned on by default when the newest version of Internet Explorer becomes available for the public. Do Not Track is meant for advertisers so they won’t be able to track their users’ internet activities to push targeted ads.
The U.S. Congress and the European Union is backing Microsoft’s “on by default” aspiration, as they are looking to protect the privacy of consumers, but members of the advertising industry strongly oppose the move as they view it as a unilateral decision that could potentially disrupt the web balance.
The ad sector argues that by shipping IE10 with DNT on by default, they are not giving the consumers the freedom to choose whether they want to be tracked or not. The World Wide Web Consortium stated that no one can impose a decision to consumers so the possible solution for this is to provide a third option that removes the default setting from either being on or off by giving them three choices: “A user has explicitly consented to tracking; a user has explicitly chosen not to be tracked; and, a user has expressed no preference”–meaning it is neither on or off which means a user may or may not be tracked depending on how the servers interpret their lack of preference and will be based on a user’s privacy expectations and cultural circumstances.