FireFox 3: What with all the hype?

Firefox is our favorite browser here at Singlehop, as it is for millions of other users and now its gotten even better! On June 17th Mozilla officially launched firefox 3 and 24 hours later it was downloaded over 21 million times from all around the globe. If you aren't one of those who have downloaded the newest version and enjoying the improvements, let me fill you in on some of the newest features.

1. ITS FAST! - In previous versions Firefox's memory used to grow out of control when you added tabs, extensions etc, but not anymore! The dev team's primary goal was memory reduction. You can read the details on one of the developers' blogs, Firefox 3 Memory Usage.
From just going to the sites I normally visit I can feel how blazing fast it is but for more evidence I used the sunspider javascript benchmark tool. I ran it in Firefox 2 first and then started it on Firefox 3. Firefox 3 finished before 2 (IE took twice as long as firefox 2) and the test results showed why. But here check out yourself http://www.webkit.org/perf/sunspider-0.9/sunspider.html
2. Improved Security – Firefox 3 has new security features such as Instant Website ID and Anti-Malware Scanner. You can check the validity of any site you go to by clicking on the favicon ( the icon just to the left of the URL in the location bar). This shows whether or not you are on the site you expect to be on and that the site owners are who they say they are. The three possible colors are

Grey – the site provides no identity information, which is fine if theres no sensitive information passing through the site. So most pages will have a grey icon.
Blue - Basic identity information shows that your connection to the site is encrypted and the domain has been verified and is not being spoofed. But, theres no guarantee as to who owns the domain in question. If you are still concerned. Click on More Information to open the privacy panel, here you can see the site's identity certificate, if you've visited the site before, and if you have any cookies or passwords stored for the site.
Green - Complete identity information Go to paypal.com and you will see part of the location bar turn green. When the Site Identity button is green, that indicates that the site provides fully verified identity information about its owner, and that the connection is encrypted. This site is using the new Extended Validation (EV) certificate, which is much more rigorous in verifying a site's identity than other certificates. The Green Icon says this connection is encrypted and the site is what you expect it to be.

3. Anti-Malware - If you happen upon an malicious website. Firefox 3 will popup a full-sized message as a warning against viruses, worms, trojan horses and spyware.4 .One-Click bookmarking – The built in list of attack-sites is constantly being updated and shows when to stop you from browsing, so there’s nothing for you to update. Other security enhancements include; insecure versions of plug-ins won't run, Use of the Microsoft Antivirus API for full integration with antivirus software, and it also works with Vista's parental controls, so you can better control where your kids go on the net.
At the end of every URL you will see a star. By clicking on the star firefox will bookmark that site for you. Two clicks on the star will open the bookmark manager allowing you to organize and tag the bookmark.
4. Smart Location Bar (aka The Awesome Bar) - The firefox location bar used to be just the place where you typed in a websites URL, but not any more. Now the location bar learns as you use it and adapts to your preference and improves its findings, to give you a quick way to get to the sites you love—even the ones that are just on the tip of your tongue. Type in a term and the autocomplete function includes possible matching sites from your browsing history, as well as sites you’ve bookmarked and tagged in a drop down. For example, you could enter the tag: “dedicated servers” to find “www.singlehop.com”. Matched terms are highlighted, making the list of results easy to scan.

If you are upgrading from Firefox 2 you may find some of your favorite addons are yet compatible with Firefox 3, but Firefox periodically checks for updates to addons and with so many people installing this version, you wont have to wait too long for updates.

Another little function has returned to firefox is the ability to block third party cookies. In order to protect you from advertisers who are collecting personal information, surfing behavior, interests etc
for more information on this check out http://www.grc.com/cookies.htm

If you want to disable 3rd party cookies in Firefox heres how to do it. Open up Preferences(OS X) or Options (Windows & Linux), click on Privacy and then uncheck Accept Third Party Cookies. click OK and you are done. No more third party cookies.

So Firefox 3 has some great improvements and protective features and is a definite download must but always remember that you are the first line of defense when it comes to your computers security and that no software is FULLY SECURE, because just 24 hours after the release of firefox 3, security researchers have already found vulnerabilities. For more information check out. http://www.securityfocus.com/brief/759