The new Firefox improvement can help fight against malicious attacks

Mozilla is adding a new site-isolation feature that can put each site into separate processes, improve speed and security

firefox-browser-is-about-to-get-a-big-security-boostA new feature will make Firefox a lot safer to use

Mozilla Firefox, or simply Firefox, is introducing a new security feature called Site Isolation. This new implementation will supposedly protect the browser users from cyberattacks initiated via malicious websites, making the browser even more secure. The security architecture for both beta and nightly channels is tested. By putting each site in separate operating system processes the feature can help to load websites faster and avoid attacks.

The feature means that Firefox will treat HTTP and HTTPS versions of the same site as different pages, so they get separate processes. It should also improve the browser performance because the crash of one page is not going to affect the responsiveness of other sites.

Using more processes to load websites allows us to spread work across many CPU cores and use the underlying hardware more efficiently.

Mozilla has been working on this project (titled Fission)[1] for three years, and finally, the users will soon be able to test it out. The new security feature is very similar to the one available on Google Chrome browsers since 2018, sandboxes web pages, isolating them from one another in separate computer processes.

Firefox is the fourth most popular desktop browser in the world.[2] It comes behind Chrome, Safari, and Edge, respectively. It was first launched in 2004 and challenged the domination of Internet Explorer. It's a cross-platform browser meaning it's available to Linux, Windows, macOS, and other operating system users.

Embedded elements that are not part of the same site get their own process

The Site Isolation was only available to Firefox Nightly users, but everything is about to change as the security feature matured enough to be introduced to the general public. It functions reasonably simply. When a user opens a new page or tab, a new system process is explicitly created for it.

As a software engineer for Mozilla, Anny Gakhokidze, pointed out:[3]

This new security architecture allows Firefox to completely separate code originating from different sites and, in turn, defend against malicious sites trying to access sensitive information from other sites you are visiting.

The Site Isolation feature is available to all users, so if you want to test it out, you have to type in “about:config” in your URL address bar when using Firefox. Then write “fission” in the newly appeared search bar or scroll down and find fission.autostart. Then set its preference to “true” by double-clicking on the entry or pressing the toggle button. We highly recommend enabling this feature for your own security.

Site isolation can make it harder for malicious sites to execute attacks

The implementation of the new Firefox browser security feature will benefit the users very highly. First of all, they would be protected against various malicious websites that seek to steal your private information. It would also block such attacks as Meltdown and Spectre,[4] which exploit vulnerabilities in processors and operating systems to steal various personal data, including usernames, passwords, credit card info, and any other details that would be useful to the cybercriminals.

Although it isn't confirmed, Site Isolation might even come in handy when dealing with the newly discovered “Scheme flooding”.[5] This vulnerability might allow tracking your browsing activities on every browser even if the anonymous mode is selected.

Apart from all these security upgrades, the new feature will also benefit the performance and stability of the device and the application itself:

  • Hardware will be used more efficiently, as the processes used to lead pages will be spread out through available CPU cores.
  • Because of the page separation to different processes, the response time on different tabs won't be affected by high resource usage, and finally, one crashed tab won't bring the whole browser down.
About the author
Ugnius Kiguolis
Ugnius Kiguolis - The mastermind

Ugnius Kiguolis is a professional malware analyst who is also the founder and the owner of 2-Spyware. At the moment, he takes over as Editor-in-chief.

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