WebRTC World Feature Article

January 31, 2013

For Better Security, Mozilla's Next Firefox will Block Plugins

A new blog post from Michael Coates, the director of security assurance at Mozilla, shows a new direction in mind for the next version of Mozilla's popular Firefox browser, and it's something of an unusual step in its own right. According to the blog post in question, Firefox will block every plugin, by default, and instead open up a "click-to-play" option which would allow users to select which plugins they want running at any given time.

The click-to-play option will allow users to run a Firefox session completely without plugins as a matter of course, allowing things like Java and Silverlight to be kept quiet except when needed. While this isn't the first time Mozilla has done something similar--a previous version did much the same thing, but only for plugins that were vulnerable to attack, outdated, or otherwise put on a blocklist--this latest implementation blocks every plugin out there except the latest version of Flash.

The blog post further detailed how the new option was designed to give users more control over the resources going into their online experience, as well as keeping the browser more stable over the long run. It also looks to help cut down on the number of browser crashes and the amount of system memory being used by Firefox, and even has a benefit in terms of providing security by removing the potential for third-party plugins to contain exploit kits that can turn malicious very rapidly.

The desktop version is, at last report, currently available, while Android users could get it through Google Play. Mozilla even goes so far as to claim that, with its new JavaScript compiler known as IonMonkey, Web apps and games run fully 25 percent faster than they did formerly. There's also Retina support for Mac users, and also, preliminary support for the new system that may change the way a lot of people communicate, Web-based real-time communications, or WebRTC.

Firefox is already a pretty widely used browser technology. While there have been some complaints about how much memory it takes up and the like, a lot of people have enjoyed its sheer capability, ease of use, and its comparatively high level of security. Mozilla clearly isn't just resting on its laurels, calling a job well done good enough; no, it's putting the kind of research and resources into future versions that most anyone should like to see in a product development. Mozilla doesn't just want a good Web browser out today, Mozilla wants a good Web browser out tomorrow, and the next day, and beyond.

There's certainly room enough for a lot of competitors in the browser space, but Mozilla users should find themselves very happy to back a horse that's keeping not only today in mind, but the future as well.

Edited by Brooke Neuman


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