Web giants rise to the challenge by making browsers 'NSA-proof'
Increased security efforts intended to thwart intrusive agency's breach of online privacy
The mask has been torn away - and with the revelations of whistleblower Edward Snowden, it's been revealed that the National Security Agency or NSA has been intrusively spying into the lives of American civilians in an ostensible search for "terrorists." Major Web providers are now rising to the challenge of keeping their sites free of government intrusion with stepped-up security measures.
Bernard Eich in a recent blog post calls for security researchers across the globe to regularly audit the Firefox source code and create automated systems that can ensure the same code is used to update the millions machines that run the browser.
Eich in a recent blog post calls for security researchers across the globe to regularly audit the Firefox source code and create automated systems that can ensure the same code is used to update the millions machines that run the browser. The catch is that this is an exclusive feature of Firefox. The code behind the browser is completely open source, meaning anyone can look at it, at any time.
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Chief among Eich's concerns is that private email outfit Lavabit revealed a gag order that forbade the company from the telling customers the government was requesting information about them. Eich worries that the federal government could force Mozilla into adding a backdoor into its browser.
"As the Lavabit case suggests, the government may request that browser vendors secretly inject surveillance code into the browsers they distribute to users," Eich says.
"We have no information that any browser vendor has ever received such a directive. However, if that were to happen, the public would likely not find out due to gag orders."
As Firefox is an open source, outsiders can not only audit the code, they patch holes in the software and distribute such changes independently of Mozilla. Essentially, if there's a problem with Mozilla or Firefox, someone else can fix it and publish a new version online. "Through international collaboration of independent entities, we can give users the confidence that Firefox cannot be subverted without the world noticing, and offer a browser that verifiably meets users' privacy expectations," Eich explains.
Firefox is not the exception among major browsers. Microsoft's Internet Explorer isn't open source at all, and although Apple Safari, Google Chrome and Opera are based on open source software, all contain at least some proprietary code. Pure open source implementations of Chrome exist - such as Chromium and Iron - but Firefox is the only major browser that is completely open source.
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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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