Category Archives: Mozilla

Firefox 68.0.2

One security fix and a handful of other bug fixes were released in the form of Firefox 68.0.2 on August 14.

The lone security fix closes a hole in the way Firefox handles saved passwords. Before Firefox 68.0.2, it was possible to extract password information from the browser’s encrypted password database — even when it was protected by a master password — without entering the master password. That’s a rather large and (at least to anyone who uses Firefox’s password store with a master password) disturbing security hole.

As always, you can wait for Firefox to update itself, or expedite things by navigating the browser’s ‘hamburger’ menu to Help > About Firefox.

Thunderbird 60.8: ten security fixes

Earlier this month Mozilla released a new version of its (still free, and still pretty good) email client, Thunderbird. The new version (60.8) includes fixes for ten security issues in earlier versions.

If you use Thunderbird, you can check which version you’re running by clicking its (‘hamburger’) menu button, and navigate to Help > About Mozilla Thunderbird. If a newer version is available, you should see a prompt to install it.

Firefox 68.0

There are at least twenty-one fixes for security issues in the latest Firefox, version 68.0. If Firefox is your browser of choice, and it prompts you to install this update, you should let it proceed. If Firefox’s automatic version checking is disabled, you can always wake it up by navigating the ‘hamburger’ menu to Help > About Mozilla Firefox.

Other changes in Firefox 68.0 include the spread of “Dark mode in reader view” into the surrounding browser interface. Blecch. Well, it’s not for me, anyway.

Extension management, via the about:addons page, is improved in the new Firefox. It’s now easier to report security and performance issues with extensions and themes. It’s also easier to get detailed information about extensions. And there’s a new section that provides extension recommendations.

The release notes page for Firefox 68.0 has more information.

Firefox 67.0.3 and 67.0.4

Over the last few days, two new versions of Firefox were released, each addressing a single security vulnerability.

Firefox 67.0.3 fixes a critical flaw in the way Javascript objects are handled that can allow exploitable crashes. Targeted attacks in the wild are actively abusing this flaw.

Firefox 67.0.4‘s fix is for an as yet unexploited flaw that could potentially result in executing arbitrary code on the user’s computer.

Both vulnerabilities were reported to Mozilla by non-Mozilla security researchers.

You can wait for Firefox to update itself, or nudge it along by visiting Help > About Mozilla Firefox in its menu, found by clicking the hamburger button (hamburger) button in the toolbar.

Firefox 67.0

Firefox 67.0, released on May 21, improves the browser’s privacy, security, accessibility, performance, and compatibility. There are also twenty-one security fixes in the new version.

You can find all the details on the release notes page, and a related Mozilla blog post.

A couple of the changes are worth highlighting:

  • Firefox can now be configured to block known cryptominers and fingerprinters using Content Blocking preferences.
  • Accessibility improvements: there’s now full keyboard access to toolbar areas, including add-ons, downloads, Page actions, etc.

You can check your current version and trigger an update check by navigating Firefox’s ‘hamburger’ menu to Help > About Firefox.

Firefox 66.0.4 fixes major add-on problem

On May 3, Firefox users all over the world noticed that the browser’s add-ons suddenly stopped working and disappeared from the toolbar. This caused major consternation, as you might imagine. Mozilla has previously made changes to Firefox which disabled some add-ons, so there was initially some concern that this was intentional. However, it turns out that someone at Mozilla failed to renew a critical security certificate, which then expired on May 3rd.

Mozilla added certificate checking to Firefox’s add-ons (extensions, themes, search engines, language packs) some time ago to weed out malicious add-ons and prevent them from being used. When the main certificate expired, Firefox suddenly identified all add-ons as invalid, and disabled them.

Many people use Firefox without add-ons, and those people were unaffected by this problem. Some people, including myself, use add-ons to provide functionality without which Firefox is almost unusable. For example, I use uBlock Origin to prevent Javascript from running on all web pages by default, and Dark Reader to make dark-themed web pages readable.

Once people started noticing the problem, they naturally tried to find workarounds, some of which did more harm than good. Mozilla scrambled to solve the problem, and on May 4 pushed out an official, temporary workaround using a little-known Firefox feature called Studies. Once installed, this fix did re-enable add-ons for many users, but didn’t help if the Studies feature was disabled, and was only effective for desktop versions of the browser.

On May 5 a new version of Firefox was released by Mozilla. Firefox 66.0.4 includes a single change that fixes the certificate expiry problem. There are a few caveats: some add-ons may need to be re-enabled manually. Certain add-ons will remain disabled. Other add-ons may need to be reconfigured.

This was a major (and embarassing) blunder, but Mozilla handled it reasonably well, although the information they published was occasionally somewhat misleading. There’s a useful record of what happened on this Mozilla blog post.

Update 2019May10: Yesterday, Mozilla published a followup/apology post.

Thunderbird 60.6.1

Mozilla released a new version of their email client Thunderbird recently: 60.6.1. The new version includes fixes for two security vulnerabilities.

The fixed vulnerabilities are unlikely to pose a threat to Thunderbird users. According to the related security advisory:

In general, these flaws cannot be exploited through email in the Thunderbird product because scripting is disabled when reading mail, but are potentially risks in browser or browser-like contexts.

In other words, since Thunderbird does not allow scripts embedded in email to execute, users are generally much safer than if the same email is displayed in a web browser.

Firefox 66.0 and 66.0.1

The latest major release of Firefox is version 66, which was announced on March 19th. The new version includes some welcome improvements and twenty-one security fixes.

What’s new in Firefox 66?

  • Audio is now prevented from playing by default. You can override this behaviour with a global setting, or add specific web sites to an exclusion list.
  • When you have a lot of tabs open, Firefox now shows a down-arrow button at the end of the tab bar. Clicking this button shows a list of all open tabs, and provides a special search function, allowing you to search your open tabs.
  • Scroll Anchoring tries to keep your content in place even as advertising and other images try to push what you’re reading off the page.
  • Extensions get a slight speed boost.
  • It’s now a bit easier to configure keyboard shortcuts for extensions.
  • HTTPS certificate error pages are easier to understand.
  • Additional performance and stability improvements, especially during page loading.
  • AV1 video support was added to the 32-bit version of Firefox.

Firefox 66.0.1 addresses two security issues in earlier versions, and was released on March 22nd.

You can check which version you’re running by clicking Firefox’s ‘hamburger’ menu, and navigating to Help > About Firefox. If you’re not yet up to date, you should see an Update button that allows you to install the latest version.