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Firefox 74 introduces tighter security and stricter rules

Image credit: Mozilla

Mozilla has launched the latest version of its Firefox web browser, v.74, for Windows, Mac, and Linux, which includes stricter rules for add-ons and tighter security features.

Firefox 74 is available as a free download from Firefox.com. Existing users should be able to upgrade to it automatically, the web browser company said, adding that Firefox has around 250 million active users, making it a major platform for web developers to consider.

One of the new features of Firefox 74 is that third-party programs aren’t allowed to install add-ons (functionality extensions) in a user’s browser. If, for some reason, a program has installed an unwanted add-on, users can now remove it themselves from the browser’s add-on manager without issue.

Aside from better add-on management, this update includes the ability to reverse alpha sort login details in Lockwise; allows users to import bookmarks and history from Microsoft's Edge browser on Windows and Mac, and Firefox now provides better privacy for user’s web voice and video calls by adding support for mDNS ICE, which cloaks their IP address with a random ID in certain WebRTC scenarios.

For additional security, Firefox 74 has removed support for Transport Layer Security (TLS) 1.0 and TLS 1.1, which were first switched off in September 2019 while Firefox 74 was still in the development phase.

TLS is a cryptographic protocol designed to provide communications security over a computer network: websites use it to secure all communications between their servers and browsers. TLS also succeeds Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and handles the encryption of every HTTPS connection.

Going forward, website admins should ensure that TLS 1.2 or TLS 1.3 are used instead. According to Qualys SSL Labs, 97.1 per cent of websites support TLS 1.2, while 26.5 per cent support TLS 1.3.

Websites that don’t support TLS 1.2+, however, will show an error page with an override button to “enable TLS 1.0 and 1.1,” Mozilla said. The web browser company also said it will eventually remove this button and have advised website operators to upgrade their servers to TLS 1.2 or TLS 1.3.

Mozilla also announced other important additions to Firefox with this release. For example, Firefox offers a 'Facebook Container' feature that prevents Facebook from tracking you around the web by blocking Facebook logins, likes and comments automatically on non-Facebook sites. Mozilla said that if users need to make an exception for a site where they want such Facebook functionality, they can do so.

While Firefox 74 is more of a usability release, next month’s Firefox 75 update will be a little more flashy, Mozilla said. According to beta release notes, Firefox 75 is due to ship with a revamped address bar that expands with links to your top sites when you click it. According to Mozilla, the new bar will provide “a focused, clean search experience that’s optimised for smaller screens”.

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