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Inside Firefox 3's security features

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Robert Vamosi
As CNET's former resident security expert, Robert Vamosi has been interviewed on the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, and other outlets to share his knowledge about the latest online threats and to offer advice on personal and corporate security.
Robert Vamosi
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Security takes front and center in the new release of Firefox. For a look at the basic features, see our slide show. For an interview with the head designer of the security features, listen here. And for a look inside the security features, see the next slide.
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Should you want to make sure that you are on the CNET site, you can still request more information within Firefox 3 just by clicking the company icon.
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By default, Firefox 3 displays new warnings when entering and leaving encrypted Web sites, but if you want to add even more warnings, you can check all the boxes.
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One of the most dramatic security changes within Firefox 3 is the blocked page. In Firefox 2, the browser screen would go dark and a window would open saying the page was suspected to be a forgery. No more. Firefox 3 blocks the entire page, unless you dare to ignore the warning and continue. Notice the red Border Guard icon in the upper left-hand corner (more on him later).
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Firefox uses antiphishing information supplied by Google. Sometimes Google misses a page or blocks a page incorrectly. Firefox 3 makes it easy to send a note to either add a suspected forgery page or to report an incorrect forgery alert.
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Here is the default warning we received after checking all the security messages boxes when we entered a financial site.
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And here is the warning we received when we left the financial site. Had we been working on a transaction and were suddenly without an encryption connection, Firefox would have warned us.
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If there's no encryption on the page or no trusted by VeriSign certificate, Larry turns gray. Sites like CNET and others that do not require encryption or third-party validation will not have the extra credentials.
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Clicking the icon, you see color-coded "Larry," Mozilla's new border guard. Here he's blue or cool. On sites that use Extended Verification Secure Sockets Layer (EV SSL), like eBay, both the company icon and Larry turn green to show you extra secure. If there was a problem with the site, you'd see Larry in either yellow or red.
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If a page isn't a forgery, how do you know whether the site you're visiting is using encryption or has been verified by a trusted third party? Firefox 3 makes it easy. Mouse over the company icon located to the left in the address bar. If you need further information, click on the company logo icon.

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