Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Thank you Firefox, Google, and Ben Goodger

Yesterday Firefox2 saved my wife a lot of trouble and frustration.

Ellery visited her MySpace to see what was new, and noticed a strange message in her inbox. Figuring it was spam, she brought it up so she could delete it. An official-looking MySpace login page appeared, which seemed strange to Ellery, but she figured it was probably a timeout or something so she went to start entering her email and password.

And then Firefox2 saved the day by intervening, explaining that the page looked like a phishing page, and offering a link that said "Get me out of here!". It probably looked something like this:

What does your web browser do when you visit that link?

Ellery and I have been internet junkies for awhile now, and honestly I feel pretty invincible in my day-to-day browsing. While I've often had to help friends and relatives out of spyware/virus/phishing situations, it has never happened on one of my computers. So when Firefox2 came out with anti-phishing technology, I was happy for their sake, but never figured it would matter for a sophisticated internet snob like myself.

The really scary thing here is that phishing is generally a web problem, not an operating system problem. When the goal is to get your passwords and take over your internet accounts, it doesn't matter whether you're browsing the web from Windows, Mac, or Linux -- you're still vulnerable.

Thankfully, we have Firefox2 available for all of those platforms. So thanks to the whole Firefox team, including Ben Goodger who is awesome. And also thanks to Google for maintaining the list of known phishing sites, and for working hard to make the web safer for everyone, even know-it-alls like us.

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