For about the past six years, Mozilla has been putting cash bounties on bugs, and more recently, the open-source company upped the reward from $500 to $3,000. Not a bad score for researchers who make it their business to hunt down bugs and turn them in, but for some, it's not about the money.
In fact, roughly 10-15 percent of the serious security flaws reported to Mozilla since the cash bounty program was first offered have been provided at no cost.
"A lot of people would say, 'Don't worry about it. Donate it to the eFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) or just me a T-shirt,'" said Jonathan Nighingale, the director of Firefox development, in a recent interview.
Turning down the cash for reporting clunky browser behavior is made even more impressive considering these bugs can sometimes fetch even more money in the underground market. Cyber crooks are always on the lookout for rogue software to infect people's machine, and Mozilla's cash bounty is an attempt to counter this practice.
"In North America, $3,000 is not nothing," Nightingale added. "But in a lot of the world, $3,000 is a big deal, and our contributors come from lots of places."
For the third straight month, Microsoft's Internet Explorer trended upwards in browser market share, doing so largely at the expense of Mozilla's popular Firefox browser, according to Net Applications.
Internet Explorer gained 0.42 percent in July, and now commands 60.74 percent of the browser market. Firefox, however, was the biggest loser of the bunch, dropping 0.9 percent, while Google's Chrome browser slid slightly by 0.08 percent. As for the rest of the major players, both Safari and Opera gained a bit of ground to the tune of 0.24 percent and 0.18 percent, respectively.
That makes IE the biggest, having gained more ground than any other browser. More importantly (for Microsoft), this three month win streak shows that IE isn't going down with a fight, and might not be going down at all. Prior to this recent upswing, it looked as though IE was on its way to forfeiting its position as the world's most used browser.
Innovation in the browser market is pretty rare these days with most developers putting the focus on speed rather than features, but Mozilla is working on something that may fundamentally change the way you work with tabs. A new feature called “Tab Candy” is currently being tested that will allow users to group tabs by category and zoom out on all your open pages giving you the freedom to organize the chaos that comes from a day’s worth of browsing.
You need to watch the video after the jump to truly appreciate what they are trying to do here, but to sum it up in words, it’s somewhat similar to a Mac OSX feature called expose which gives you a smaller preview of everything going on in your browser. If after giving the video a preview you want to give Tab Candy a try, you can download the custom Firefox 4 beta build which contains an alpha version of the new tab manager.
I’m not sure if this will come together in time for Firefox 4, but it’s the one feature I could see myself switching back from Chrome for. It’s great to see new ideas continuing to evolve.
Now, Dell’s Kace subsidiary is offering a “virtualized and contained” version of Firefox 3.6 (with Adobe Reader and Flash plugins) called the Secure Browser. According to the company, the Secure Browser provides a safer web experience by limiting all malicious downloads and hostile changes within the sandbox, effectively shielding the operating system from such threats.
Browser extensions may seem innocuous from a security standpoint to most internet surfers, but as with any chunk of code it is a mistake to presume their harmlessness. It is a lesson that probably most of the people, who downloaded a Firefox add-on called Mozilla Sniffer, have learnt by now.
“Mozilla Sniffer has been downloaded approximately 1,800 times since its submission and currently reports 334 active daily users. All current users should receive an uninstall notification within a day or so,” Mozilla said in a statement on its blog. “The site this add-on sends data to seems to be down at the moment, so it is unknown if data is still being collected.”
Mozilla has also disabled another add-on, CoolPreviews, after a security escalation vulnerability was discovered in version 3.0.1. All previous versions of the add-on have been disabled along with the flawed version. However, a fixed version “was uploaded and reviewed within a day of the developer being notified.”
The first beta for Firefox 4 was released yesterday, and brought with it a host of new features. One thing we were hoping for was a significant speed boost that would bring the popular open source browser up to parity with the likes of Chrome and Safari 5. Well, keeping in mind that this is a beta, things aren't looking great in the speed department.
A benchmark of the browser with Dromaeo and Peacekeeper show that Firefox 4 is a modest improvement over Firefox 3.6, but it still can't touch Chrome or Safari. Both Safari and Chrome have been iterating their software very fast, and it's possible the Mozilla Foundation just can't keep up. Firefox has a notoriously long release cycle.
We hold out hope that the development team have some tricks up their sleeve for the final release. It would be nice to see Firefox come back after seeming to fall behind. Are you a Firefox user, or have you moved to Chrome/Safari?
Sometimes wars come down to alliances, and in the browser war, Mozilla now has IBM in its corner, says Bob Sutor, VP of Linux and Open Source at IBM.
"Some of the software we all use shouldn’t surprise you since we make it, such as Lotus Notes, Lotus Sametime, and Lotus Symphony," Sutor wrote in a blog post. "We’re officially adding a new piece of software to the list of default common applications we expect employees to use, and that’s the Mozilla Firefox browser.
"Firefox has been around for years, of course. Today we already have thousands of employees using it on Linux, Mac, and Windows laptops and desktops, but we’re going to be adding thousands more users to the rolls."
Sutor listed out several reasons why he himself prefers Firefox over the competition, chief among them that "Firefox is stunningly standards compliant, and interoperability via open standards is key to IBM's strategy." Sutor also praised Firefox for its security and extensible nature, or in other words the very same reasons why it's been such a hit on the consumer side.
Perhaps inconceivable just a few short years ago, it now seems inevitable that Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser won't hold onto its market share lead forever, and could fall to Firefox within the next 24 months or so. We say this because IE has been trending backwards in market share numbers, at least up until now.
Microsoft can breathe a sigh of relief in June, even if only for one month. For the first time in a long time, the world's most popular browser (in market share) increased its usage, stopping what's long been a slow, albeit steady decline. According to Web analytics firm Net Applications, IE's usage numbers inched upwards in June from 59.8 percent to 60.3 percent. While promising, Microsoft knows not to read too much into this.
"We certainly don't judge our business on just two months of data, but the direction here is encouraging," said Ryan Gavin, senior director of business and marketing for Internet Explorer.
Meanwhile, Mozilla's Firefox browser slid backwards from 24.3 percent to 23.8 percent. And don't take your eyes off of Google's Chrome browser, which rose from 7.0 percent to 7.2 percent from May to June. Still settling in at fourth place, Apple's Safari browser climbed from 4.8 percent to 4.9 percent, while Opera declined ever-so-slightly from 2.4 percent to 2.3 percent.
Grown tired of staring at the same old browser(s) every day? If you want to shake things up and aren't put off by potentially buggy code, Mozilla has made available the first Firefox 4 Beta Candidate build.
By Mozilla's own admission, the Firefox 4 Beta isn't quite ready yet, but you can snag a copy all the same from Mozilla's directory of nightly builds. No release notes accompany the early beta build, and that's probably because there aren't a whole lot of changes from the latest Alpha release of Firefox 3.7.
Still want to give it a spin? Download a copy here (scroll down) and be sure to backup your profile before making the leap, you know, just in case things go horribly wrong.
Security is important, yo. While a lot of sites on the ol' World Wide Web might support HTTPS connections, that doesn't mean that typing www.sitename.com into your browser will always pull up an encrypted connection between you and your final location. But don't take my word for it. Quoth the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
"Many sites on the web offer some limited support for encryption over HTTPS, but make it difficult to use. For instance, they may default to unencrypted HTTP, or fill encrypted pages with links that go back to the unencrypted site."
So how, then, do we address this problem? Step one is staring at the little lock icon within your browser. If the lock ain't locked, then you're not rocking a secure connection. Easy as that.