Mozilla

Mozilla’s free password manager, Firefox Lockbox, launches on Android

Posted by | Android, android apps, Apps, Firefox, Mozilla, password manager, privacy, Security, web browser, Web browsers | No Comments

Mozilla’s free password manager designed for users of the Firefox web browser is today officially arriving on Android. The standalone app, called Firefox Lockbox, offers a simple if a bit basic way for users to access from their mobile device their logins already stored in their Firefox browser.

The app is nowhere near as developed as password managers like 1Password, Dashlane, LastPass and others as it lacks common features like the ability to add, edit or delete passwords; suggest complex passwords; or alert you to potentially compromised passwords resulting from data breaches, among other things.

However, the app is free — and if you’re already using Firefox’s browser, it’s at the very least a more secure alternative to writing down your passwords in an unprotected notepad app, for example. And you can opt to enable Lockbox as an Autofill service on Android.

But the app is really just a companion to Firefox. The passwords in Lockbox securely sync to the app from the Firefox browser — they aren’t entered by hand. For security, the app can be locked with facial recognition or a fingerprint (depending on device support). The passwords are also encrypted in a way that doesn’t allow Mozilla to read your data, it explains in a FAQ.

Firefox Lockbox is now one of several projects Mozilla developed through its now-shuttered Test Flight program. Over a few years’ time, the program had allowed the organization to trial more experimental features — some of which made their way to official products, like the recently launched file-sharing app, Firefox Send.

Others in the program — including Firefox Color⁩⁨Side View⁩⁨Firefox Notes⁩⁨Price Tracker and ⁨Email Tabs⁩ — remain available, but are no longer actively developed beyond occasional maintenance releases. Mozilla’s current focus is on its suite of “privacy-first” solutions, not its other handy utilities.

According to Mozilla, Lockbox was downloaded more than 50,000 times on iOS ahead of today’s Android launch.

The Android version is a free download on Google Play.

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Firefox is now a better iPad browser

Posted by | Apps, Firefox, firefox focus, free software, iOS, iPad, Mobile, Mozilla, Software, tablet computers, TC, Web browsers | No Comments

Mozilla today announced a new iOS version of Firefox that has been specifically optimized for Apple’s iPad. Given the launch of the new iPad mini this week, that’s impeccable timing. It’s also an admission that building a browser for tablets is different from building a browser for phones, which is what Mozilla mostly focused on in recent years.

“We know that iPads aren’t just bigger versions of iPhones,” Mozilla writes in today’s announcement. “You use them differently, you need them for different things. So rather than just make a bigger version of our browser for iOS, we made Firefox for iPad look and feel like it was custom made for a tablet.”

So with this new version, Firefox for iPad gets support for iOS features like split screen and the ability to set Firefox as the default browser in Outlook for iOS. The team also optimized tab management for these larger screens, including the option to see tabs as large tiles, “making it easy to see what they are, see if they spark joy and close with a tap if not.” And if you have a few tabs you want to share, then you can do so with the Send Tabs feature Mozilla introduced earlier this year.

Starting a private browsing session on iOS always took a few extra tabs. The iPad version makes this a one-tap affair as it prominently highlights this feature in the tab bar.

Because quite a few iPad users also use a keyboard, it’s no surprise that this version of Firefox also supports keyboard shortcuts.

If you are an iPad user in search of an alternative browser, Firefox may now be a viable option for you. Give it a try and let us know what you think in the comments (just don’t remind us how you work from home for only a few hours a day and make good money… believe me, we’re aware).

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Tor pulls in record donations as it lessens reliance on US government grants

Posted by | Android, brave, Brendan Eich, carnegie mellon, censorship, censorshit, DuckDuckGo, Edward Snowden, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Firefox, Mozilla, TC, tor, U.S. government, United States | No Comments

Tor, the open-source initiative that provides a more secure way to access the internet, is continuing to diversify its funding away from its long-standing reliance on U.S. government grants.

The Tor Foundation — the organization behind the service which stands for “The Onion Router” — announced this week that it brought in a record $460,000 from individual donors in 2018. In addition, recently released financial information shows it raised a record $4.13 million from all sources in 2017 thanks to a growth in non-U.S. government donors.

The individual donation push represents an increase on the $400,000 it raised in 2017. A large part of that is down to Tor ally Mozilla, which once again pledged to match donations in the closing months of the year, while an anonymous individual matched all new backers who pledged up to $20,000.

Overall, the foundation said that it attracted donations from 115 countries worldwide in 2018, which reflects its importance outside of the U.S.

The record donation haul comes weeks after the Tor Foundation quietly revealed its latest financials — for 2017 — which show it has lessened its dependence on U.S. government sources. That’s been a key goal for some time, particularly after allegations that the FBI paid Carnegie Mellon researchers to help crack Tor, which served as a major motivation for the introduction of fundraising drives in 2015.

Back in 2015, U.S. government sources accounted for 80-90 percent of its financial backing, but that fell to just over 50 percent in 2017. The addition of a Swedish government agency, which provided $600,000, helped on that front, as well as corporate donations from Mozilla ($520,000) and DuckDuckGo ($25,000), more than $400,000 from a range of private foundations, and, of course, those donations from individuals.

Tor is best known for being used by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden but, with governments across the world cracking down on the internet, it is a resource that’s increasingly necessary if we are to guard the world’s right to a free internet.

Tor has certainly been busy making its technology more accessible over the last year.

It launched its first official mobile browser for Android in September, and the same month it released TorBrowser 8.0, its most usable browser yet, which is based on Firefox’s 2017 Quantum structure. It has also worked closely with Mozilla to bring Tor into Firefox itself as it has already done with Brave, a browser firm led by former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich.

Beyond the browser and the Tor network itself, which is designed to minimize the potential for network surveillance, the organization also develops a range of other projects. More than two million people are estimated to use Tor, according to data from the organization.

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Firefox Focus adds support for enhanced tracking protection and Google’s Safe Browsing service

Posted by | Android, Apps, Firefox, firefox focus, free software, Google, google-chrome, Mozilla, Safe Browsing, search engine, Software | No Comments

Firefox Focus for Android and iOS is Mozilla’s privacy-centric mobile browser. Today, the organization stepped up this promise of keeping its users’ data private by adding to the browser a few new features that expand on this by adding a new privacy feature, as well as a few other new tools.

The main new addition here is support for Enhanced Tracking Protection. This feature first launched in Firefox for the desktop. It allows you to block cookies and trackers with a bit more granularity than was previously possible. Until now, Focus blocked all cookies by default. Now, however, you can choose to either continue doing that — but with the risk of sites breaking every now and then — or opt to allow third-party cookies or only third-party tracking cookies. Mozilla uses Disconnect’s Tracking Protection list to power this feature.

“This enables you to allow cookies if they contribute to the user experience for a website while still preventing trackers from being able to track you across multiple sites, offering you the same products over and over again and recording your online behavior,” Mozilla explains.

Mozilla also today announced that Firefox Focus now checks all URLs against Google’s Safe Browsing service to ensure that users don’t click on known phishing links or open other fraudulent sites. While using a Google tool may seem a bit odd, given that Firefox and Chrome are competitors, it’s worth noting virtually every browser makes use of Safe Browsing (and that Mozilla pulls in a lot of revenue from its search engine deal with Google).

In addition, iOS users who opt for Firefox Focus will now be able to get search suggestions, too, just like their friends on Android . There’s a privacy trade-off here, though, as everything you’re typing is sent directly to the likes of Google for offering you those suggestions. Because the focus of this browser is privacy, the feature is turned off by default, though.

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Mozilla ranks dozens of popular ‘smart’ gift ideas on creepiness and security

Posted by | Gadgets, hardware, Mozilla, Security | No Comments

If you’re planning on picking up some cool new smart device for a loved one this holiday season, it might be worth your while to check whether it’s one of the good ones or not. Not just in the quality of the camera or step tracking, but the security and privacy practices of the companies that will collect (and sell) the data it produces. Mozilla has produced a handy resource ranking 70 of the latest items, from Amazon Echos to smart teddy bears.

Each of the dozens of toys and devices is graded on a number of measures: what data does it collect? Is that data encrypted when it is transmitted? Who is it shared with? Are you required to change the default password? And what’s the worst-case scenario if something went wrong?

Some of the security risks are inherent to the product — for example, security cameras can potentially see things you’d rather they didn’t — but others are oversights on the part of the company. Security practices like respecting account deletion, not sharing data with third parties, and so on.

At the top of the list are items getting most of it right — this Mycroft smart speaker, for instance, uses open-source software and the company that makes it makes all the right choices. Their privacy policy is even easy to read! Lots of gadgets seem just fine, really. This list doesn’t just trash everything.

On the other hand, you have something like this Dobby drone. They don’t seem to even have a privacy policy — bad news when you’re installing an app that records your location, HD footage and other stuff! Similarly, this Fredi baby monitor comes with a bad password you don’t have to change, and has no automatic security updates. Are you kidding me? Stay far, far away.

Altogether, 33 of the products met Mozilla’s recently proposed “minimum security standards” for smart devices (and got a nice badge); 7 failed; and the rest fell somewhere in-between. In addition to these official measures there’s a crowdsourced (hopefully not to be gamed) “creep-o-meter” where prospective buyers can indicate how creepy they find a device. But why is BB-8 creepy? I’d take that particular metric with a grain of salt.

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Answering its critics, Google loosens reins on AMP project

Posted by | Advertising Tech, AMP Project, Apache Software Foundation, Apple, Apps, cloudflare, Google, Microsoft, Mobile, mobile web, Mozilla, open source, Policy | No Comments

Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, has been a controversial project since its debut. The need for the framework has been clear: the payloads of mobile pages can be just insane, what with layers and layers of images, JavaScript, ad networks, and more slowing down page rendering time and costing users serious bandwidth on metered plans.

Yet, the framework has been aggressively foisted on the community by Google, which has backed the project not just with technical talent, but also by making algorithmic changes to its search results that have essentially mandated that pages comply with the AMP project’s terms — or else lose their ranking on mobile searches.

Even more controversially, as part of making pages faster, the AMP project uses caches of pages on CDNs — which are hosted by Google (and also Cloudflare now). That meant that Google’s search results would direct a user to an AMP page hosted by Google, effectively cutting out the owner of the content in the process.

The project has been led by Malte Ubl, a senior staff engineer working on Google’s Javascript infrastructure projects, who has until now held effective unilateral control over the project.

In the wake of all of this criticism, the AMP project announced today that it would reform its governance, replacing Ubl as the exclusive tech lead with a technical steering committee comprised of companies invested in the success in the project. Notably, the project’s intention has an “…end goal of not having any company sit on more than a third of the seats.” In addition, the project will create an advisory board and working groups to shepherd the project’s work.

The project is also expected to move to a foundation in the future. These days, there are a number of places such a project could potentially reside, including the Apache Software Foundation and the Mozilla Foundation.

While the project has clearly had its detractors, the performance improvements that AMP has been fighting for are certainly meritorious. With this more open governance model, the project may get deeper support from other browser makers like Apple, Mozilla, and Microsoft, as well as the broader open source community.

And while Google has certainly been the major force behind the project, it has also been popular among open source software developers. Since the project’s launch, there have been 710 contributors to the project according to its statistics, and the project (attempting to empathize its non-Google monopoly) notes that more than three-quarters of those contributors don’t work at Google.

Nonetheless, more transparency and community involvement should help to accelerate Accelerated Mobile Pages. The project will host its contributor summit next week at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, where these governance changes as well as the technical and design roadmaps for the project will be top of mind for attendees.

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With Lockbox and Notes, Mozilla launches its first set of mobile Test Pilot experiments

Posted by | Android, Apps, Firefox, iOS, Mobile, mobile apps, Mozilla, note taking, password manager, TC, test pilot | No Comments

Mozilla’s Test Pilot program for Firefox has long been the organization’s way to trial some of its more experimental ideas for new browser features. Now it’s expanding this program to include mobile apps, too, with the launch Firefox Lockbox, of a password manager for iOS and Notes by Firefox, a note-taking app for Android.

Both apps have a connection to Firefox (hence their names), but we’re not talking about Firefox plugins here. These are standalone apps that sync with Firefox on the desktop and mobile and share its branding.

Lockbox gives you access to passwords you’ve saved in Firefox and then lets you use them in their respective apps (think Twitter or Instagram). To unlock the app, you can use Face ID or your fingerprint.

If you’re not a Firefox user, you probably won’t get a lot of value out of Lockbox, but if you are, then this now allows you to use Firefox’s native password manager instead of a third-party app. That’s a smart move by Mozilla, which doesn’t necessarily have a lot of market share for its browser on iOS but still wants to keep iOS users involved in its ecosystem.

Notes by Firefox does exactly what you think it does. It’s a note-taking app for Android that stores your encrypted notes and syncs them between your phone and the browser. If this sounds a bit familiar, that’s probably because the Notes browser plugin itself is a Test Pilot experiment that launched back in 2017. Now Mozilla is complementing it with a mobile app. Notes in the browser offers all the basic note-taking features you’d want (with support for Markdown if that’s your thing), though we are talking about pretty basic functionality here. Don’t expect a Microsoft Onenote or a similarly fully featured service.

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Mozilla and NSF awards $380K to small projects connecting the unconnected

Posted by | connectivity, digital divide, Gadgets, hardware, Mobile, Mozilla, National Science Foundation, TC | No Comments

 The FCC may be hard at work at “bridging the digital divide,” as Chairman Pai so frequently puts it, and the Connect America Fund II will help. But while the big players are setting up, people all over the U.S. are going without reliable internet. Mozilla and the National Science Foundation are awarding cash to projects that aim to connect those still waiting on the bandwidth we… Read More

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Mozilla brings its private web browser Firefox Focus to Android

Posted by | Android, Apps, Mozilla, privacy, TC | No Comments

 Late last year, Firefox introduced a new, private web browser for iPhone, called Firefox Focus. The browser by default blocks ad trackers and can erase your browsing history, including passwords and cookies. Now, over a half-year later, Firefox is bringing the Focus browser to Android devices, with some added functionality.
Like the iOS version, Firefox Focus remains a minimalistic browser… Read More

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Multi-process Firefox brings 400-700% improvement in responsiveness

Posted by | add-on, Developer, Firefox, Mobile, mobile browser, Mozilla, Security, TC | No Comments

Cuddly Asian Red Panda or Lesser panda (Ailurus fulgens) chewing on leaves. Earlier this summer I wrote about Mozilla’s efforts to rollout a multi-process architecture, codename Electrolysis, for Firefox. In the months since, Mozilla has completed its initial tests on 1 percent of its user population and the initial numbers are good, according to Asa Dotzler, director of Firefox at Mozilla. The company is reporting a 400 percent improvement in… Read More

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