Firefox turns 8 and gets a key security boost

Between Android and Firefox, this has been a big week for milestones in the world of free and open source software.

First, on Monday, we had Android's fifth birthday--accompanied by news that Google's Linux-based mobile operating platform attained a market share of 75 percent of smartphone shipments for the third quarter.

Then, on Friday, it was Firefox's eighth birthday.

'Openness and interoperability'

“Eight years ago today, Mozilla launched the first version of Firefox,” wrote Johnathan Nightingale, vice president of Firefox Engineering, in a blog post earlier today.

“Today, on Firefox’s 8th birthday, we’re proud to say that our mission hasn’t changed, but the Web has,” Nightingale added. “These days, hundreds of millions of people trust Firefox with their online lives. We still put people first and, with the support of our Firefox fans, we drive the Web towards openness and interoperability.”

Meanwhile, even as Mozilla's popular Web browser approached this latest milestone, developers last week announced a new security boost for Firefox.

'Maintaining the user's security'

“We have added to Firefox a list of hosts that want HSTS enforced by default,” wrote Mozilla blogger David Keeler in a recent post on the project's Security Blog.

HSTS, or HTTP Strict Transport Security, is a mechanism by which a server can require that the browser use a secure connection to communicate with it, thereby enhancing users' privacy and security.

“When a user connects to one of these hosts for the first time, the browser will know that it must use a secure connection.,” Keeler explained. “If a network attacker prevents secure connections to the server, the browser will not attempt to connect over an insecure protocol, thus maintaining the user’s security.”

Now in Firefox 17

The “preload list” used for this feature has been seeded with entries from a corresponding list for Google's Chrome browser, Keeler noted.

The new feature is now available in the current beta version of Firefox 17, so it's available for anyone to check out.

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