[This article is originally published in fastcompany.com written by KATHARINE SCHWAB - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Wushe Zhiyang]

You’re probably sick of hearing about data and privacy by now–especially because, if you live in the United States, you might feel like there’s very little you can do to protect yourself from giant corporations feeding off your time, interests, and personal information.

So how do you walk the line between taking advantage of the internet’s many benefits while protecting yourself from the corporate interests that aim to use your data for gain? This is the push-and-pull I’ve had with myself over the past year, as I’ve grappled with the revelations that Cambridge Analytica has the personal data of more than 50 million Americans, courtesy of Facebook, and used it to manipulate people in the 2016 elections. I’ve watched companies shut down their European branches because Europe’s data privacy regulations invalidate their business models. And given the number of data breaches that have occurred over the past decade, there’s a good chance that malicious hackers have my info–and if they don’t, it’s only a matter of time.

Mozilla

While the amount of data about me may not have caused harm in my life yet–as far as I know–I don’t want to be the victim of monopolistic internet oligarchs as they continue to cash in on surveillance-based business models. What’s a concerned citizen of the internet to do? Here’s one no-brainer: Stop using Chrome and switch to Firefox.

Google already runs a lot of my online life–it’s my email, my calendar, my go-to map, and all my documents. I use Duck Duck Go as my primary search engine because I’m aware of how much information about myself I voluntarily give to Google in so many other ways. I can’t even remember why I decided to use Chrome in the first place. The browser has become such a default for American internet users that I never even questioned it. Chrome has about 60% of the browser market, and Firefox has only 10%. But why should I continue to use the company’s browser, which acts as literally the window through which I experience much of the internet, when its incentives–to learn a lot about me so it can sell advertisements–don’t align with mine?

Firefox launched in 2004. It’s not a new option among internet privacy wonks. But I only remembered it existed recently while reporting on data privacy. Unlike Chrome, Firefox is run by Mozilla, a nonprofit organization that advocates for a “healthy” internet. Its mission is to help build an internet in an open-source manner that’s accessible to everyone–and where privacy and security are built in. Contrast that to Chrome’s privacy policy, which states that it stores your browsing data locally unless you are signed in to your Google account, which enables the browser to send that information back to Google. The policy also states that Chrome allows third-party websites to access your IP address and any information that the site has tracked using cookies. If you care about privacy at all, you should ditch the browser that supports a company using data to sell advertisements and enabling other companies to track your online movements for one that does not use your data at all.

Though Mozilla itself is a nonprofit, Firefox is developed within a corporation owned by the nonprofit. This enables the Mozilla Corporation to collect revenue to support its development of Firefox and other internet services. Ironically, Mozilla supports its developers using revenue from Google, which pays the nonprofit to have Google Search as Firefox’s default search engine. That’s not its sole revenue: Mozilla also has other agreements with search engines around the world, like Baidu in China, to be the default search engine in particular locations. But because it relies on these agreements rather than gathering user data so it can sell advertisements, the Mozilla Corporation has a fundamentally different business model than Google. Internet service providers pay Mozilla, rather than Mozilla having to create revenue out of its user base. It’s more of a subscription model than a surveillance model, and users always have the choice to change their search engine to whichever they prefer.

I spoke to Madhava Enros, the senior director of Firefox UX, and Peter Dolanjski, a product manager for Firefox, to learn more about how Mozilla’s browser builds privacy into its architecture. Core to their philosophy? Privacy and convenience don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Instead, Firefox’s designers and developers try to make the best decision on behalf of the user, while always leaning toward privacy first. “We put the user first in terms of privacy,” Dolanjski says. “We do not collect personally identifiable data, not what you do or what websites you go to.”

That’s not just lip service like it often is when companies like Facebook claim that users are in control of their data. For instance, Firefox protects you from being tracked by advertising networks across websites, which has the lovely side effect of making sites load faster. “As you move from website to website, advertising networks essentially follow you so they can see what you’re doing so they can serve you targeted advertisements,” Dolanjski says. “Firefox is the only [major] browser out of the box that prevents that from happening.” The browser’s Tracking Protection feature automatically blocks a list of common trackers in private browsing mode and can be enabled to run all the time, something you need a specific, third-party browser extension to do on Chrome.

The “out of the box” element of Firefox’s privacy protection is crucial. Chrome does give you many privacy controls, but the default for most of them is to allow Google to collect the greatest amount of information about you as possible. For instance, Google Chrome gives users the option to tell every website you go to not to track you, but it’s not automatically turned on. Firefox offers the same function to add a “Do Not Track” tag to every site you visit–but when I downloaded the browser, the default was set to “always.”

Firefoxs privacy protection

Because Chrome settings that don’t encourage privacy are the default, users are encouraged to leave them as they are from the get-go, and likely don’t understand what data Google vacuums up. Even if you do care, reading through Google Chrome’s 13,500-word privacy white paper, which uses a lot of technical jargon and obfuscates exactly what data the browser is tracking, isn’t helpful either. When I reached out to Google with questions about what data Chrome tracks, the company sent me that white paper but didn’t answer any of my specific questions.

One downside to using Firefox is that many browser extensions are built primarily for Chrome–my password manager luckily has a Firefox extension but it often causes the browser to crash. However, Mozilla also builds extensions you can use exclusively on Firefox. After the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica firestorm, Firefox released an extension called the Facebook Container, which allows you to browse Facebook or Instagram normally, but prevents Facebook from tracking where you went when you left the site–and thus stops the company from tracking you around the web and using that information to build out a more robust personal profile of you.

Mozilla Firefox released an extension called the Facebook Container

Firefox isn’t even Mozilla’s most private browser. The nonprofit also has a mobile-only browser called Firefox Focus that basically turns Firefox’s private browsing mode (akin to incognito browsing on Chrome, but with much less data leakage) into a full-fledged browser on its own. Privacy is built right into Focus’s UX: There’s a large “erase” button on every screen that lets you delete all of your histories with a single tap.

Firefox’s private browsing mode also has a feature called “origin referrer trimming,” where the browser automatically deletes the information about which site you’re coming from when you land on the next page. Focus also blocks any analytics services that would take this information. “The user doesn’t need to think about that,” Dolanjski says. “It’s not heavily advertised, but it’s the little decisions we make along the way that meant the user doesn’t have to make the choice”–or even know what origin referrer trimming is in the first place.

Firefoxs private browsing mode

Many of these decisions, both in Firefox and in Focus, are to guard against what Enros calls the “uncanny valley” of internet browsing–when ads follow you around the internet for weeks. “I buy a toaster, and now it feels like the internet has decided I’m a toaster enthusiast and I want to hear about toasters for the rest of my life,” he says. “It’s not a scary thing. I’m not scared of toasters, but it’s in an uncanny valley in which I wonder what kinds of decisions they’re making about me.”

Ultimately, Firefox’s designers have the leeway to make these privacy-first decisions because Mozilla’s motivations are fundamentally different from Google’s. Mozilla is a nonprofit with a mission, and Google is a for-profit corporation with an advertising-based business model. To a large degree, Google’s business model relies on users giving up their data, making it incompatible with the kind of internet that Firefox is mission-bound to build. It comes back to money: While Firefox and Chrome ultimately perform the same service, the browsers’ developers approached their design in a radically different way because one organization has to serve a bottom line, and the other doesn’t.

That also means Firefox’s mission is aligned with its users. The browser is explicitly designed to help people like me navigate the convenience versus privacy conundrum. “To a great degree, people like us need solutions that aren’t going to detrimentally impact our convenience. This is where privacy is often difficult online,” Dolanjski says. “People say, go install this VPN, do this and do that, and add all these layers of complexity. The average user or even tech-savvy user that doesn’t have the time to do all these things will choose convenience over privacy. We try to make meaningful decisions on behalf of the user so we don’t need to put something else in front of them.”

When GDPR, the most sweeping privacy law in recent years, went into effect last week, we saw firsthand how much work companies were requiring users to do–just think of all those opt-in emails. Those emails are certainly a step toward raising people’s awareness about privacy, but I deleted almost all of them without reading them, and you probably did, too. Mozilla’s approach is to make the best decision for users’ privacy in the first place, without requiring so much effort on the users’ part.

Because who really spends any time in their privacy settings? Settings pages aren’t a good UX solution to providing clear information about how data is used, which is now required in Europe because of GDPR. “Control can’t mean the responsibility to scrutinize every possible option to keep yourself safe,” Enros says. “We assume a position to keep you safe, and then introducing more controls for experts.”

Firefox doesn’t always work better than Chrome–sometimes it’ll freeze on my older work computer, and I do need to clear my history more frequently so the browser doesn’t get too slow. But these are easy trade-offs to make, knowing that by using Firefox, my data is safe with me.

Categorized in Internet Privacy

We take a look at the performance and features of the big four internet browsers to see which one will serve you best in 2017.

The web browser is by far the most important piece of software on your PC—at least for most users. Unless you’re at a workstation crunching numbers or editing the next Star Wars you probably spend the majority of your computer time staring at a web app or a website.

That’s why it’s important to make sure you’ve always got the best tool for the job, and in 2017 that does not include Internet Explorer. If you still want the built-in option for Windows that would be Edge, but it’s hard to stick strictly with Edge when you’ve got other choices including Google’s Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera.

Let’s take a look at the four major (and modern) browsers to see how they stack up in 2017.

(If none of these internet browsers strike your fancy, head over to PCWorld's roundup of 10 intriguing alternative browsers.)

Browsers in brief

Chrome

chromelogo

The current people’s champion, Google Chrome tops the metrics charts of both StatCounter and NetMarketShare by a huge margin. Google’s browser has built a dedicated fan base thanks to its massive extensions library, and the fact that it just gets out of your way to put the focus on web content, not the browser’s trimmings.

Chrome isn’t quite as simplistic as it once was, but it’s still very easy to use. There isn’t much to Chrome except a huge URL bar—known as the OmniBar—plus a space for extensions, a bookmarking icon, tabs, and that’s it.

Yet Google still finds a way to hide all kinds of features inside the browser, including deep integration with Google’s services. This allows you to sync your bookmarks, passwords, open tabs, and more across devices. Chrome also has multi-account support if you need it on a family machine, a built-in PDF viewer, built-in Google Translate functionality, a task manager, and the always handy Paste and go context menu item.

If there’s one complaint people have about Chrome it’s that the browser eats up available memory. Our browser testing in 2015 showed that Chrome was definitely a memory beast, but two years later it fared pretty well in our tests.

Firefox

 

mozilla firefox logo

 

For users who love extensibility but want greater privacy than a Google-made browser can provide, the open source Mozilla Firefox is your best bet. Firefox paved the way for other browsers to become extensible, and while Firefox’s add-on catalog is pretty good, it now pales in comparison to the Chrome Web Store. Like Google, Firefox has a sync feature.

Where Firefox has really shined in recent years is with the browser’s incognito mode. All browsers have a private mode that lets you browse without any of your activity being logged in your saved history. But most of the time these private modes still allow websites to track your activity for that specific session. Firefox does away with this by including an ad and tracker blocker when using incognito mode.

Opera

 

operabrowser

 

Before Chrome, Opera was a popular choice among power users—a position former Opera CEO Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner is trying to take back with Vivaldi. Opera today is really one of the more under-rated browsers around. It’s based on the same core technologies as Chrome (the Blink rendering engine and the JavaScript V8 engine), which means it can run many Chrome extensions—there’s even an extension for installing extensions from the Chrome Web Store.

Opera’s also got a few unusual features like Turbo, which saves on load times and bandwidth by compressing webpages on Opera’s servers. It’s also got a nice security feature called domain highlighting that hides most of the URL so that users can see easily and clearly if they’re on Google.com or google.com.scam.com—with scam.com being the actual website.

More recently, Opera introduced its own take on the social sidebar with one-click access to services such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Telegram. Like Chrome and Firefox, Opera also has its own cross-device syncing feature.

Microsoft Edge

 

microsotedge

 

Microsoft Edge is still a work in progress. You'll see below that its performance is getting better, but that’s not all there is to the browser in 2017. The Edge extensions library is tiny, its sync functionality is near nonexistent, and it doesn’t get updates nearly fast enough—though that is expected to change with the Fall Creators Update.

Despite its shortcomings, Edge has several helpful features that will appeal to some. Edge is deeply integrated with Windows 10’s inking capabilities, as well as with OneNote, making it easy to clip a webpage, annotate it, and save it to a notebook. Cortana is also a big part of Edge. You can use Microsoft’s digital assistant to quickly search for information, compare prices, or get a quick calculation.

Like Chrome, Edge has a casting feature. There’s also a nifty set-aside tabs feature to stash a collection of websites, the ability to read ebooks (great for tablets), and an MSN.com-ish new-tab page.

Benchmarks

That’s enough of an overview for our four contestants, let’s get down to business. To see which browser is worthy of your bandwidth in 2017 we used a variety of testing tools. For judging JavaScript we used JetStream, and the now unsupported Octane 2.0 and SunSpider 1.0.2 benchmarking tools. Then we turned to WebXPRT 2015 and Speedometer to challenge our browsers under simulated web app workloads.

Finally, we took a look at CPU and RAM usage. Similar to what we did in 2015, we loaded a set of 20 websites in a single window in quick succession using either a batch file or the command line depending on the quirks of the browser in question. Once all tabs began loading, we waited 45 seconds, and then checked the CPU and RAM usage. The idea was to see the amount of system resources the browser would use during a heavy workload.

One difference from 2015 is that Flash was turned off for each browser—benchmarks were done with and without the plugin in 2015. In recent years, most browser makers have de-emphasized Flash, enabling it as “click-to-play” and blocking nonessential website elements that use Flash. Since the web is moving to a Flash-free existence we decided to live the dream right now.

For these tests our rig was an Acer Aspire E15-575-33BM laptop loaded with Windows 10 Home (Creators Update), a 1TB hard drive, 4GB RAM, and an Intel Core i3-7100U. Each browser was tested over a hard line internet connection.

Edge makes big gains

Looking at both Jetstream and SunSpider, Edge won top marks by a wide margin. SunSpider has been deprecated for some time and is no longer supported, but the result was still surprising. For Octane 2.0, which is also no longer supported, Firefox and Opera vied for top spot, with Chrome the laggard by a wide margin. For this set of benchmark scores higher is better with the exception of SunSpider.

browser performance jetstream2

The JavaScript test Jetstream shows Microsoft Edge hanging tough.

browser performance sunspider

SunSpider also shows Microsoft Edge with a performance edge, loading JavaScript quite a bit more quickly than others.

browser performance octane

 

Chrome makes the poorest showing in the Octane test.

Moving on to the more modern Speedometer test, which quickly iterates through a bunch of HTML 5-based to-do lists, Chrome came out on top. Google’s Blink-based cousin Opera came in second, with Edge and Firefox way behind. The numbers were much closer for WebXPRT 2015, which uses a wide number of web apps, from photo collections to online note-taking to data sets. Edge came out on top there, while the others were closer together with only a few points separating the back three. Again, higher is better for these tests.

browser performance speedometer

Chrome narrowly edges out Opera in HTML-5-based tasks.

browser performance webxprt 2015

Edge makes another good showing in the web apps realm.

Finally, we come to the memory and CPU test. Slamming an average PC with 20 tabs of mostly media rich sites all at once is certainly going to chew up a good chunk of CPU and memory. These browsers did not disappoint in that respect.

Despite its reputation, however, Chrome was tops here, using less than 40 percent CPU power, followed by Edge. The results were similar for memory with Chrome using the least. Take those impressive Edge numbers with a healthy dose of skepticism, however, as during testing the PC froze, and we couldn’t access task manager as swiftly as with the others. The fact that the whole PC slowed to a crawl suggests Edge’s numbers don’t tell the whole story. Based on that experience, power users with multiple tabs open in Edge would feel some serious pain trying to get work done.

browser performance cpu usage2

It's true that running media rich content in multiple tabs will tax your system's CPU.

browser performance memory usage

As with the CPU test, Chrome's reputation as the biggest resource hog is undeserved these days.

As for Firefox, you may notice that the browser chewed up CPU usage, but was relatively low in memory usage. The reason for that, as Mozilla reminded us, is that Firefox alone is transitioning from one browser process to four. Whereas Chrome and Edge use multiple processes for each tab. The idea behind the latter is that individual tabs running on separate processes won't take down the whole browser if they crash. That approach does use more memory, however. Mozilla is trying to find a middle ground. On the one hand, Firefox helps maintain overall PC performance under heavier workloads, but it's not great if you want dozens of sites to load as quickly as possible. 

And the winner is...

So who wins? Here’s the way we see it.

Once again, Edge gets honorable mention for making some serious gains in performance and earning some truly impressive scores. But when you factor in customizability and how Edge fared in the live site stress test, it still has some work to do—like offering a wider extension library and the ability to sync across devices. 

As in our previous showdown, Chrome continues to capitalize on these strengths, and even improves in the performance department by addressing its past resource issues, making it, once again, our first choice.

Opera again earns second place since it performed relatively well in the live stress test, and can be set up to take advantage of nearly all the same conveniences Chrome can.

As for Firefox, it’s also a fine choice. Mozilla’s browser definitely gets the job done, it’s very customizable, and its open source roots puts the browser in a league of its own.

Source: This article was published pcworld.com By Ian

Categorized in Search Engine

The makers of Firefox are today introducing a new mobile web browser for iOS users that puts private browsing at the forefront of the user experience. Called Firefox Focus, the mobile browser by default blocks ad trackers, and erases your browsing history, including your passwords and cookies.

The end result is a simplified browser that may load web pages more quickly, the company claims, given that ads and other web trackers can bog down pages and impact performance.

The app was originally launched on the App Store almost a year ago, but at the time was designed as an ad-blocking utility that could remove ads and trackers from iPhone’s Safari browser. That feature is still available in the revamped app, but it’s now aiming to compete more directly with Safari, too.

The browser itself doesn’t have any bells and whistles compared to its rivals, however. There are no tabs, no list of favorite sites, or numerous other configuration options. Instead, a trip to the Settings section only lets you toggle on or off the data you want to block, like ad trackers, analytics trackers, social trackers, other content trackers and web fonts.

Oddly, given the widespread privacy issues Yahoo is facing in the wake of one of the largest data breaches of all time, Firefox Focus has opted to use Yahoo Search as its default search engine. There doesn’t appear to be a way to change this in the current version, which is frustrating. (Update: Mozilla says search engine choice will arrive in a later release. Other markets outside the U.S. may have a different engine than Yahoo.)

Pointing users to Google may seem counterintuitive for a company focused on protecting personal data, but eliminating user choice in such a Big Brother-like fashion under the guise of knowing what’s best is off-putting, as well.screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-10-57-11-am

After you complete a web search, you can erase that activity with a simple press of an “erase” button. Firefox Focus could have automated this, but there’s something about manually clearing a search that feels cathartic.

Despite an increased interest in privacy — especially now, following this period of tumultuous political upheaval here in the U.S. — Firefox may again be too late the game to compete. Already, the top mobile browser makers offer private browsing modes, and there are a number of third-parties that have made private browsing a focus for years, like Tor. The App Store, too, is filled with utilities for private browsing, including a number of startups like Ghostery, Dolphin, Brave and others.

Once one of the world’s top browsers in the desktop era, Firefox didn’t really weather the shift to mobile. Instead of jumping to produce a mobile-friendly browser for the dominant platforms, it protested against the App Store’s restrictions, refusing to build an iOS versionfor years. That finally changed, and Firefox for iOS launched to all around a year ago. But it simply was too late to matter.

The new Firefox Focus is a free download on the Apple App Store. No word on if or when an Android version will be ready.

Author:  Sarah Perez

Source:  https://techcrunch.com

Categorized in Science & Tech

Citing the dangers of a digital world that thereatens to spill beyond the user's control, Mozilla has launched the Firefox Focus last Nov. 17. The company promised it will let the public use the internet without any trace, and it is only available to iPhones and other iOS devices.

New Private Browser

Firefox Focus is essentially a private browser that recalls Google Chrome's Incognito mode.

"Firefox Focus is set by default to block many of the trackers that follow you around the Web. You don't need to change privacy or cookie settings," Mozilla said in a blog post. "You can browse with peace of mind, feeling confident in the knowledge that you can instantly erase your sessions with a single tap — no menus needed."

Based on Mozilla's description, however, it seems that it might be offering an advanced private browsing in the Firefox Focus. Chrome's Incognito Mode does not prevent websites from tracking your activities.

"You aren't invisible," Chrome tells you when opening an Incognito window. "Going incognito doesn't hide your browsing from your employer, your internet service provider, or the websites you visit."

Blocking Web Trackers

Firefox Focus blocks websites that are tracking visitors' activities, which also sets it apart from a VPN tool. According to Mozilla, its algorithm is designed to target web tracking technologies, and websites that rely on tracking will simply not work. If a user does not mind tracking or wants to go to a blocked website, Firefox Focus will direct him to Firefox or Safari.

It is important to note that there is a Firefox Focus serving as a Safari content blocker extension. With the introduction of a stand-alone Focus browser, that feature became an option within its range of functionalities. In its Settings menu, there is an option to integrate Safari and enable tracking blocker.

Like Chrome's Incognito browsing, Focus will erase all traces of the user's sessions when the app is closed.

Firefox Focus Interface

The user interface is another notable feature in the Firefox Focus. The options and elements are essentially barebones. Users, for instance, can only use one tab or essentially no tab because you only have the main Focus window. There are also no menus, ad popups, bookmarks and configuration options.

Some observers, however, found it strange that Mozilla has decided to use Yahoo as Firefox Focus' default search engine. The company has been involved in one of the largest data breaches to date. There is no way of changing the search engine yet, but Mozilla said that it will be offering more choices in the next update.

Focus On Speed

According to Mozilla, because Focus blocks website trackers and is not outfitted with all the features in conventional browsers, it is able to load pages faster.

There are those who could say that the Firefox Focus is at risk of being a mere appendage of a more full-fledged internet browser. Blocking web tracking technologies could make contents such as videos disappear, or they will simply not work. However, users can still do something about this. In the Settings menu, they can toggle the type of data that they want to block.

Author:  Chris Loterina

Source:  http://www.techtimes.com/

Categorized in Internet Privacy

 Mozilla has just released the newest version of its Firefox web browser for iOS devices this Tuesday, and it now features customizable search and better energy efficiency.

Mozilla has struggled to make an impact on mobile and has been unsuccessful so far, but the company is now hoping that this new update could change that.

The company once tried to remedy this issue by making Firefox OS phones, but this didn't pan out so well, so Mozilla is now making more of an effort with its mobile web browser.

The new version of Firefox for iOS slashes 40 percent off processor use and up to 30 percent for memory use. This makes it possible for the browser to save up on power and make aniPhone's or iPad's battery last longer.

Mozilla also said that by cutting down on processor and memory use, pages will load even faster than before.

This feature alone could convince more people to start using Firefox on their iOS devices instead of Google Chrome or Apple's own Safari browser.

"We created these new features in Firefox for iOS because of what we heard from our users, and we look forward to more feedback on the updates," Mozilla's VP of Firefox Nick Nguyen said. 

The new version of Firefox for iOS also comes with a customizable search.

Instead of just the usual search engines like Yahoo, Google or Bing, the update will let users add searches for CraigslistWikipedia or eBay, according to CNET. If a user sets Wikipedia as thebrowser's search engine, they will be able to easily search the site by typing directly onto Firefox's address bar.

This also makes it faster and easier for users to quickly search for something very specific.

The new version of Firefox can also sync tabs and history with the desktop version of the browser.

It also features a new way to reopen recently closed tabs, which should be useful when a user closes a tab by accident.

Navigation has also been made a lot easier with the redesigned menu, while the ability to set a favorite page as Firefox's homepage has also been added.

http://www.designntrend.com/articles/81777/20160728/new-firefox-browser-for-ios-boasts-improved-battery-efficiency-adds-customizable-search-engine.htm

Categorized in Search Engine

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