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Mozilla’s Firefox starts autoblocking web plugins

Browser is viewed as ‘most trusted’
Wed Jan 30 2013, 14:18
Mozilla Firefox logo

SOFTWARE OUTFIT Mozilla will add a feature to its Firefox web browser that limits the behaviour of web plugins.

Announced in a Mozilla blog post, Click to Play will "put users in control" according to Mozilla, and wrest the behaviour of their computers out of the hands of other firms and their software.

"Mozilla is changing the way Firefox loads third party plugins such as Flash, Java and Silverlight. This change will help increase Firefox performance and stability, and provide significant security benefits, while at the same time providing more control over plugins to our users," said Michael Coates, director of security assurance at Mozilla.

"Previously Firefox would automatically load any plugin requested by a website. Leveraging Click to Play Firefox will only load plugins when a user takes the action of clicking to make a particular plugin play or the user has previously configured Click To Play to always run plugins on the particular website."

Users will have the option to create settings that determine what websites are allowed to run plugins and when, and will even be able to set Firefox to accept all plugins anywhere.

Where the blocks are in place, they will fight off things like "poorly designed third party plugins" that cause crashes in Firefox and high memory usage, a perennial web browser bugbear. Firefox said that this will deliver increased security and stability.

Presently a number of software plugins are already blocked, and Coates said more are lined up. Out of date software is first up against the wall, and users are directed to a Mozilla webpage that can check whether their plugins are up to date.

"Our plan is to enable Click to Play for all versions of all plugins except the current version of Flash," said Coates. "Click to Play has already been enabled for many plugins that pose significant security or stability risks to our users. This includes vulnerable and outdated versions of Silverlight, Adobe Reader, and Java."

This week, on Data Privacy Day, Mozilla was crowned as the "Most Trusted Internet Company for Privacy in 2012", following a study by the Ponemon Institute.

The study polled more than 100,000 consumers in the US and ranked Mozilla the 20th most trusted company overall. American Express was first, HP second, Amazon third and IBM fourth.

"Mozilla is a unique technology organization that puts people at the center of the Web," said Mozilla chief privacy officer Alex Fowler.

"Being ranked the most trusted Internet company for privacy is validation that users want mainstream applications like Firefox to provide a great user experience and better transparency, choice and control online. Much more is ahead for Mozilla as we work with stakeholders across the Web and mobile to help people understand how their information is being used and shape their own online experience." µ


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