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Firefox Releases Version 4… Introduces New Security Features

This week Mozilla announced the release of the newest version of its free and open source Web browser. Firefox 4.0 includes a number of features designed to enhance security. Since this wordpress blog is designed to help you with your website security, we think it’s important that you understand browser security.

Imagine for a moment that you are the top manager for a high security prison. Obviously your main objective is to keep the inmates locked up inside the walls. The safety of the people on the outside of the walls is the primary reason why these inmates are on the inside in your care in the first place. So you do everything you can to make sure you maintain this level of security–you check the maintenance on the walls, the maintenance on the fences inside and outside the walls, the maintenance on the towers, the maintenance on the cell walls inside the prison, and so forth.

But what if you don’t properly train the guards inside the prison? What if those guards fall asleep on the job or get too relaxed around the prisoners? What if some of the guards are trained imposters and manage to infiltrate the guard system? The prison walls and bars can be the most secure prison in the world, but if you are relaxed on the security of other areas within the prison, your prison is not really as safe as it could be.

Although the prison example above does not necessarily correlate directly with your browser security, it does illustrate an important point…

Your website security is often only as secure as the weakest point in your overall security efforts

This means that if you are relaxed in your security efforts and don’t take all necessary steps to protect your website and your server against attacks, you are at a high risk of getting hacked. In an earlier post, we discussed a Firefox plugin called Firesheep. This plugin and similar plugins and hacking tools essentially let any hacker (newbie or advanced) simply log into your browser session and watch what you are doing.

Let’s suppose that you are sitting at the airport waiting for your flight. You decide to log into your website on your laptop using the airport Wi-Fi network. You look around you and you don’t notice any mean looking people so you figure you are safe. You make a few changes to your website before you hear over the intercom speaker that your flight is ready to board. You stow away your laptop and enjoy a peaceful flight to your location. You reach your destination and check your website only to find out that your website was hacked!

This little situation is fictitious but not impractical. With the tools available to hackers these days, it’s getting even more simple to hack into your personal accounts.

That’s where Firefox 4 introduces some new security features to help protect you

Firefox has often been the browser of choice for many online business owners. It has thousands of nifty plugins that help you build, design, and maintain your website, so it’s no surprise that when I check my analytic reports, that Firefox is often one of the top browsers among website visitors.

One new feature, Instant Web Site ID, allows users to ensure that a site they’re browsing is legitimate before they make any purchases on the site. With one or two clicks they can access a site’s identity information, including details such as how many times they’ve visited the site, and whether passwords have been saved.

Other awesome features include private browsing, anti-virus integration, and various other custom security settings. You can read the whole feature list on the official Firefox 4 release page here: http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/features/

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