Category Archives: Mozilla

Firefox 69.0.1

A small update to Firefox 69 was released last week: 69.0.1. The new version addresses a single security vulnerability, fixes a rather annoying new bug that caused processes launched from Firefox to be hidden by Firefox, and fixes a few other minor issues.

Check your version of Firefox by clicking its ‘hamburger’ menu button at the top right, then navigating to Help > About Firefox. If a newer version is available, you’ll see an Update button.

Firefox 69.0: security improvements

The latest Firefox includes fixes for at least twenty security vulnerabilities, and improves overall privacy and security by enabling Enhanced Tracking Protection by default.

When enabled, Firefox’s Enhanced Tracking Protection reduces your exposure to the information-gathering efforts that otherwise silently occur when you browse. It also provides protection against cryptominers, which surrepticiously use a portion of your computer’s resources to make money for someone else.

New in Firefox 69.0 is a feature that allows you to block any video you encounter, not just those with autoplayed audio: Block Autoplay.

The ‘Always Activate’ option for Flash content has been removed. Firefox now asks for permission before it will play any Flash content.

Default installations of Firefox will usually update themselves, but if you’re not sure what version you’re running, click the browser’s ‘hamburger’ menu button at the top right, then navigate to Help > About Firefox.

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.