FireFox Raises Bar for Web Browsers in Fight to Curb Data Snooping



In an attempt to curb Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and third parties from snooping into user’s browsing data, popular Web browser, Mozilla Firefox will start rolling out encrypted DNS over HTTPS (DoH) by default across the US in the coming weeks. What this essentially means is that the browsing company is looking at measures to prevent third parties to go through your browsing history to deliver targeted ads or access personal data. The announcement was made by the company in a note that was released on Tuesday. Users outside the US will be able to manually turn the feature on by heading into Settings, General, and then scrolling down to Networking Settings.

As per the note, Firefox claimed that until now, personal browsing data was at risk since the DNS database was accessed by browsers without encryption, even when accessing secured sites with HTTPS. To elaborate, the DNS is the database that links a computer-friendly website name with a human-friendly name, and a browser performs a DNS lookup to find the website when the user navigates to a URL.

“Today, we know that unencrypted DNS is not only vulnerable to spying but is being exploited, and so we are helping the Internet to make the shift to more secure alternatives,” Mozilla said. To understand how snooping by third parties and ISPs can work, here’s an in-depth explanation from Mozilla that explains it in detail.

Meanwhile, Mozilla – the non-profit oganisation that develops the Firefox browser – had earlier received flak from experts who claim that DoH causes more problems. One such problem highlighted by experts is that DoH hampers legitimate attempts by companies and lawmakers to block dangerous Web content. Another raised concern is that only a certain part of the DNS is encrypted, therefore, third parties will still be able to see which IP addresses their users are connecting to. However, The Verge points out websites you are visiting will still be visible to the DNS registry you are using, the attempts by third-parties to see them will be be much harder with DoH enabled.

Last year, when Firefox announced it will roll out DoH, in a note, it said the company has urged US Congress to reject broadband players lobbying against this development.


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