Feeds

Mozilla slots pr0n safe mode into Firefox 3.1

Smut surfing, open source style

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Mozilla is responding to challenges from browser rivals Apple, Microsoft and Google by reviving private browsing mode features in Firefox.

The approach has been considered before but was sidelined in the run-up to the release of Firefox 3.0. However, the inclusion of similar privacy protecting features in Apple's Safari and, more recently Google Chrome and IE 8 beta 2, has revived interest in the approach and spurred a decision to incorporate the technology in the first beta of Firefox 3.1, due out next month. The decision was made at a meeting of Mozilla developers on Tuesday.

Private browsing, more memorably described as 'porn mode', makes it easier to hide a user's surfing from others using the same machine. A history of sites visited in this mode is not recorded and cookies are purged at the end of a session. In addition, content isn't cached and passwords entered won't be autosaved. A long discussion between Mozilla developers on how this should work in detail can be found here.

The most obvious application of the technology is visiting risqué sites, but it also has a variety of other uses from surfing for a birthday present for loved ones to researching medical conditions. In a discussion, Mozilla developers highlighted how the approach would make it safer to use shared PCs in libraries and cyber cafés.

Apple's Safari browser and Google Chrome both incorporate a private browsing mode. The second beta of IE, published late last month, saw the debut of Microsoft's version of "privacy mode" browsing. Dubbed "InPrivate Browsing", the feature opens a window that scrubs itself clean when it gets closed.

A Firefox add-on dubbed 'Stealthier' adds similar features, but the time is now thought ripe to include the technology as standard. Private mode browsing features were on the list for Firefox 3.0 but were sidelined in January so that developers could concentrate on ironing out the wrinkles in other technologies thought to be more important at the time, Computerworld adds.

Private browsing features in general are a client-side feature, and irrelevant when considering the tracking technology from the likes of Phorm or plans by government to impose a mandatory data retention regime on ISPs, for example. Various technologies such as Tor provide enhanced privacy, but no absolute guarantees of confidentiality. ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
'People have forgotten just how late the first iPhone arrived ...'
Plus: 'Google's IDEALISM is an injudicious justification for inappropriate biz practices'
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months
Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
iOS 8 Healthkit gets a bug SO Apple KILLS it. That's real healthcare!
Not fit for purpose on day of launch, says Cupertino
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.