Firefox Expert Gives Advice on Staying Safe Online

Recently, we asked Michael Coates, the Director of Security Assurance at Mozilla (the makers of Firefox) a few questions about keeping users safe on Firefox. His goal is to protect users, their privacy and Mozilla’s applications, services, systems and reputation. (Read more from the Security Assurance team on their blog.)

Q. What do you see as the biggest challenge that Internet users face to stay safe online?

Michael’s answer: The biggest challenge for internet users is to ensure their browser and plugins are up to date. One of the most common ways malware infects users on the internet is through outdated browser plugins.

Q. What is a potential solution for that challenge?

Michael’s answer: Mozilla has created a website to help users check if their plugins are out of date and need to be updated. Users should regularly visit this page to ensure the are using the most current versions of all plugins. www.mozilla.org/plugincheck

Q. What is your favorite Firefox security feature?

Michael’s answer: My favorite security feature of Firefox is one that we’ve recently shipped, and that we are still improving. The feature, called Click to Play, helps protect users against attacks targeting outdated plugins. Unfortunately a compromised website may contain malware that attempts to compromise a user’s machine via an outdated plugin. In many cases the website has no normal need to use this plugin at all. The click to play security feature helps protect users by not enabling these outdated plugins by default. Instead these plugins are only activated when a user intentionally takes an action like clicking on a dialogue box in the browser. In the end this new security control helps protect users against a common type of attack on the web.

Thanks to Michael for his insights!

Here are some other security tips from Firefox.

  1. Use a super strong password. If your password is 1234, you’re probably more vulnerable to being hacked. Use a phrase with numbers and special characters. For example, “_pe4reSP” is a strong password.
  2. Know if a site is secure before entering personal information. There are two quick and easy security things to look for when on a site. First, does the URL start with HTTPS (instead of HTTP)? And second, is there a “lock” icon on the URL bar that shows that you are on a secured website?
  3. Use the latest version of Firefox. This is maybe the most important tip. :) With every update comes more security. If you’re using an older browser, you’re putting yourself at greater risk. An update is so simple – here’s how to do it.

What Firefox OS means for you

Firefox recently announced that Firefox OS phones are now available! (As of this post, in Spain and Poland.)

If it’s not available in your market, do you have a stake in the success of Firefox OS? We brought in an expert that says “Yes!” and explains why.

Christian HeilmannWelcome Christian Heilmann!

Q: Christian, how are you involved with Firefox OS?

A: I worked with the system, I helped developers port their apps to it and I spend hours and hours writing about it, making demos and talking to the press and anyone who’d stand still long enough (or sit on a plane next to me).

Q: Why do you think Firefox OS is important?

A: Here are a few reasons.

  • Firefox OS kills the idea of mobile Web connectivity only being for the rich in the western world. Yes, for those in the US or the UK having a new shiny phone every half year is not an issue. But that is just not affordable to everyone, and even if it was, in many countries if you have no credit card you couldn’t even buy apps for those phones. This is unfair, elitist and plainly against anything the web stands for. Firefox OS is affordable, and apps can be bought on prepay or on your phone bill.

  • Firefox OS does not assume a fast, stable and always available connection. When traveling I start hating my Android phone (which I love to bits otherwise.) Having dozens of megabyte updates over roaming is out of the question and neither is using flaky and slow wireless connections. Firefox OS has no native apps – all of them, including the system apps are written in HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Thus they are much smaller and can have atomic updates instead of having to be replaced as a unit every single time.

  • Firefox OS is the web in your pocket. It is Firefox and nothing else (other than a Linux core to access the hardware). Thus I will not be told to “download the native app” when I go to Web sites that are perfectly fine to use.

  • Firefox OS is the platform HTML5 deserves. For developers, our HTML5 solutions are finally first-class citizens. We are not shoved into a slower Web view and told we can not access the hardware.

  • Firefox OS apps are Web-distributed apps. Users can go to the marketplace and find our apps by hand or via review or they could search for a certain song, movie, football team and dish and find our app that way. App discovery is as simple as using the Web and finding Web sites.

These are the things that really get me excited like a 5 year old on sugar rush! (Read more from Christian on his blog.)

5 Ways to Spread the Word About Firefox OS

Today, we’re excited to announce that Firefox OS smartphones will launch this month in select markets. We are taking the open Web beyond the browser into mobile operating systems, breaking down the walls that lock people into proprietary platforms.

Even if it’s not available for you yet, you can help us celebrate and generate excitement! Here’s how:

1. Tell everyone the news! Post on your social networks, tell your family, tell your friends, tell your next door neighbor — even tell complete strangers! Remember to use the #FirefoxOS hashtag when posting so those who are interested can easily follow the conversation. And you can always direct people to facebook.com/firefox and twitter.com/firefox for the latest and greatest information and fun stuff!

2. Paint social media blue! Change your social media avatars to show your support of Firefox OS — and tell others to do the same! Download the image to use here or right click on the image below to save to your desktop.

Social Media Avater

3. Post on social media at one time with many voices! Join Firefox fans from around the globe in a simultaneous Tweet or Facebook status update celebrating the launch of Firefox OS. Sign up here.

4. Add a Firefox OS Affiliate button to your blog or website! Help tell the world about Firefox OS by posting a Firefox OS Affiliate button on your blog or website. Sign up to become an affiliate at http://www.affiliates.mozilla.org and grab your button code (in your language!)

Affiliates

5. Become a Mobilizer! Mobilizers are Firefox fans who want to help spread the word about Firefox OS. Mobilizers receive periodic missions asking them to do a simple action to teach others about Firefox OS. Mobilizers can also attend, assist or host events in their region.

We are currently recruiting Mobilizer teams for Colombia, Venezuela, Spain, Poland, Mexico and Brazil. If we are not currently recruiting Mobilizers in your country, please stayed tuned for more Mobilizer teams starting soon around the world. https://wiki.mozilla.org/Mobilizers

Let’s tell the world about Firefox OS!

Firefox Add-ons for Fun

Sometimes, you visit the Web for work. Sometimes, you visit the Web for research. But sometimes you visit the Web for fun!

Here are a few Firefox Add-ons that are just for the fun of it.

Love Calculator is a completely unscientific (but totally fun!) way to find out if you are compatible with another person. It uses the letters in the two names to give you a “love score.” Give it a try.

Fun Characters allows you to add weird unicode characters to any text field. ✪✿☢☎☑ There are 248 characters to have fun and decorate your social updates or blog posts. ☕♪⚣ ツ

Cheevos lets you have fun while you’re learning Firefox! Gain achievements for using Firefox, finding hidden Easter eggs within the product and more. Varying levels of points are awarded based on the difficulty of acquiring an achievement. See how many points you can collect!

Give these a try or find something that suits you — there are thousands of Firefox Add-ons to choose from.

Download the REAL Firefox and Avoid Spyware Imposters

We thought this would be a good time to review some simple steps you can take to ensure you’re downloading a legitimate version of Firefox.

1.  Firefox is always free. If you are ever asked to pay to download Firefox, it’s a scam.

2.  The only way to be 100% sure you’re getting a legitimate version of Firefox is to download it from http://www.mozilla.org.

3.  Firefox has a lot of fans.  Some of those fans place badges on their website encouraging their visitors to download Firefox.  We call these friends affiliates (you can be one too!) If you ever click to download from one of these sites, you’re still safe, but just make sure you’re landing on a page with mozilla.org in the URL.

If you’re ever questioning whether or not you’re downloading Firefox from a legitimate site, stop what you’re doing and go directly to www.mozilla.org.  That’s the easiest way to ensure you’re getting a real version of Firefox.

Finally, you can help protect the Fox!  If you suspect someone is using our brand improperly, you can report it here.

Using the New Firefox Download Manager

In a recent update to Firefox, a new downloads feature was added to make downloads easier and give you fewer browsing interruptions.

You don’t have to constantly look for a downloads window that can get buried under all your other windows — now, it’s built right into your Firefox browser.

Watch this video to get an overview of how this feature works, or visit this support page on how to find and manage your downloaded files.

Spring Theme for Firefox

In the Northern Hemisphere, spring has sprung! People are basking in longer days, excited to be able to spend more time outside and taking time to smell the blooming flowers.

Speaking of flowers, there’s a featured Firefox theme that will be sure to make your browser bloom — it’s called Fine Fractal Flower. Even if it’s not spring where you are, this nature-inspired theme is sure to make you smile.

Here’s what the theme looks like:

Fine Fractal Flower Theme

And what it looks like once installed:

fractalflowerbrowser

If this theme isn’t for you, there are thousands more available!

5 Firefox Settings to Keep You Safer Online

When you browse the Internet, you leave a trail of personal data behind. Here at Mozilla we value your security and privacy on the Web. That’s why we have so many features built into the browser to keep you safe and secure online. Here are just a few of those features, and how to make them work for you.

  • Do Not Track: Many sites track your online behavior and sell that data to advertisers. If that makes you uncomfortable, Firefox lets you tell sites you want to opt out of that tracking and keep your browsing habits private. When you turn on Do Not Track, Firefox tells every website you visit (as well as their advertisers and other content providers) that you don’t want your browsing behavior tracked. It’s up to that site whether to honor your request, but the more people that tell the site, the more likely that site will listen.  Learn how to opt-out of tracking.

  • Clear your history (or just a single site): As you browse the web, Firefox helpfully remembers lots of information for you to make browsing easier (we don’t sell that data.) All of this information is called your history. But then oops! You clicked a link expecting one thing and you got another. You can delete that single site from your history. Or, you can delete your entire history. This article gives step-by-step instructions on how to manage your browsing history.

  • Private Browsing: Sometimes, it’s nice to go undercover on the Web. Private Browsing allows you to browse the Internet without saving any information about which sites and pages you’ve visited. Learn how to protect your browsing history.

  • Customized security options: We give you control the level of scrutiny you’d like Firefox to give a site with a variety of customized settings. Learn how to take control with your security settings.

  • The Site Identity Button: This is a Firefox security feature that gives you more information about the sites you visit. A color-coded system makes it easy to check on suspicious sites and avoid Web forgeries. Learn more about how to use the Site Identity Button.

These are just a few of the security features included in Firefox. Read more about our commitment to your privacy and security.

5 Top Tab Tips for Firefox

Hello, my name is Carmen, and I am a super tab user on Firefox.

Since my job is to give you some of the best tips and tricks for using Firefox here on The Den, I wanted to share my top tips for tabs.

There are some settings in the Preferences window that I suggest you make sure are turned on (though there are more available that you may find useful.) You can see how to adjust your tab settings here.

Tabs

  • Open new windows in a new tab: If you have a lot of sites open at the same time, a lot of windows can mean things get buried and are hard to find. I like opening new windows in a tab instead. Make sure to check this box in Preferences if you agree.

  • Warn me when closing multiple tabs: When you close a window with multiple tabs, Firefox asks “are you sure?” This prevents you from accidentally closing the whole window when you intended to only close the current tab, or gives you time to bookmark a page before shutting down Firefox so you don’t lose your place online.

  • Don’t load tabs until selected: You can keep your Firefox running fast by selecting the “don’t load tabs until selected” option. Firefox will only load the active tab when it starts or restores your previous session. The other open tabs will be loaded as you click on them.

And there’s more…

 If you’re like me, you probably run out of space on the Tab Strip quickly.  Tab Groups were made for us. They’re great for grouping tabs by task (all your news tabs for instance) and then switching between them. This support article will make you a tab wizard in no time.

For the advanced tab user, there’s also a Firefox Add-on that I find useful. Tab Mix Plus adds even more tab features to your browser. I like the ability to lock a tab, which means if I accidentally click on a link it will open it in a new tab, instead of overwriting the one I’m on. Check it out and see if it’s right for you.

See? There are lots of ways I manage my tabs, and now you can too.