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Chrome and Firefox Headless Modes May Spur New Adware & Clickfraud Tactics

Chrome and Firefox Headless Modes May Spur New Adware & Clickfraud Tactics

From a report: During the past month, both Google and Mozilla developers have added support in their respective browsers for “headless mode,” a mechanism that allows browsers to run silently in the OS background and with no visible GUI. […] While this feature sounds very useful for developers and very uninteresting for day-to-day users, it is excellent news for malware authors, and especially for the ones dabbling with adware. In the future, adware or clickfraud bots could boot-up Chrome or Firefox in headless mode (no visible GUI), load pages, and click on ads without the user’s knowledge. The adware won’t need to include or download any extra tools and could use locally installed software to perform most of its malicious actions. In the past, there have been quite a few adware families that used headless browsers to perform clickfraud. Martijn Grooten, an editor at Virus Bulletin, also pointed Bleeping Computer to a report where miscreants had abused PhantomJS, a headless browser, to post forum spam. The addition of headless mode in Chrome and Firefox will most likely provide adware devs with a new method of performing surreptitious ad clicks.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, firefox
Firefox 55: Flash Will Become 'Ask To Activate' For Everyone

Firefox 55: Flash Will Become 'Ask To Activate' For Everyone

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BleepingComputer: Starting with the release of Firefox 55, the Adobe Flash plugin for Firefox will be set to “Ask to Activate” by default for all users. This move was announced in August 2016, as part of Mozilla’s plan to move away from plugins built around the NPAPI technology. Flash is currently the only NPAPI plugin still supported in Firefox, and moving its default setting from “Always Activate” to “Ask to Activate” is just another step towards the final step of stop supporting Flash altogether. This new Flash default setting is already live in Firefox’s Nightly Edition and will move through the Alpha and Beta versions as Firefox nears its v55 Stable release. By moving Flash to a click-to-play setting, Firefox will indirectly start to favor HTML5 content over Flash for all multimedia content. Other browsers like Google Chrome, Brave, or Opera already run Flash on a click-to-play setting, or disabled by default. Firefox is scheduled to be released on August 8, 2017.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, firefox
Firefox To Let Users Control Memory Usage

Firefox To Let Users Control Memory Usage

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BleepingComputer: Mozilla engineers are working on a new section in the browser’s preferences that will let users control the browser’s performance. Work on this new section started last Friday when an issue was opened in the Firefox bug tracker. Right now, the Firefox UI team has proposed a basic sketch of the settings section and its controls. Firefox developers are now working to isolate or implement the code needed to control those settings [1, 2, 3]. According to the current version of the planned Performance settings section UI, users will be able to control if they use UI animations (to be added in a future Firefox version), if they use page prefetching (feature to preload links listed on a page), and how many “content” processes Firefox uses (Firefox currently supports two processes [one for the Firefox core and one for content], but this will expand to more starting v54).

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Posted by amiller in Blog, firefox
Will WebAssembly Replace JavaScript?

Will WebAssembly Replace JavaScript?

On Tuesday Firefox 52 became the first browser to support WebAssembly, a new standard “to enable near-native performance for web applications” without a plug-in by pre-compiling code into low-level, machine-ready instructions. Mozilla engineer Lin Clark sees this as an inflection point where the speed of browser-based applications increases dramatically. An anonymous reader quotes David Bryant, the head of platform engineering at Mozilla.

This new standard will enable amazing video games and high-performance web apps for things like computer-aided design, video and image editing, and scientific visualization…
Over time, many existing productivity apps (e.g. email, social networks, word processing) and JavaScript frameworks will likely use WebAssembly to significantly reduce load times while simultaneously improving performance while running… developers can integrate WebAssembly libraries for CPU-intensive calculations (e.g. compression, face detection, physics) into existing web apps that use JavaScript for less intensive work… In some ways, WebAssembly changes what it means to be a web developer, as well as the fundamental abilities of the web.

Mozilla celebrated with a demo video of the high-resolution graphics of Zen Garden, and while right now WebAssembly supports compilation from C and C++ (plus some preliminary support for Rust), “We expect that, as WebAssembly continues to evolve, you’ll also be able to use it with programming languages often used for mobile apps, like Java, Swift, and C#.”

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Posted by amiller in Blog, firefox