Google shuts off antiphishing feature in Firefox 2.0

Mozilla again urges users to upgrade to the newer Firefox 3.0

Google planned to turn off an antiphishing service used by Firefox 2.0 Monday, a Mozilla executive said Tuesday.

Although the two most-recent builds of Firefox 2.0, labeled 2.0.0.19 and 2.0.0.20, have omitted the defense, earlier editions of the browser were still able to query Google for a list of sites suspected of hosting identity theft scams. But Google is now shutting down the blacklist, said Mike Beltzner, the director of Firefox.

"If you're using a previous version of Firefox 2, even though the feature is enabled in your browser, as of January 20 no new data will be sent to your computer," Beltzner said in a post to the Mozilla developer center blog Monday.

Mozilla had warned users last month that Firefox 2.0, which was slated to be dropped from support, would soon lack antiphishing protection because Google wanted to discontinue the obsolete blacklist protocol that served the aged browser.

Google and Mozilla had worked together to update the protocol, first to SafeBrowsing v2.1 in late 2007, and then to SafeBrowsing v2.2 last year. In December, Mozilla urged people still running Firefox 2.0 to upgrade to the newer Firefox 3.0, which includes a working antiphishing feature.

Beltzner repeated that advice Monday. "If you're running Firefox 2.0.0.20, you can select 'Check for Updates' in the Help menu to receive an update right now," he said in another blog entry.

Mozilla has made three separate upgrade offers to Firefox 2.0 users since August, the most recent on January 8. In notes published last week, however, Mozilla said that the uptake on the offer had not been "very good."

Users running versions older than Firefox 2.0.0.20 can downlaod Firefox 3.0 from Mozilla's site .

If users can't or do not want to upgrade to Firefox 3.0, Beltzner recommended that they disable the setting "Tell me if the site I'm visiting is a suspected forgery" in the Security preferences section of Firefox 2.0's Options dialog box.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
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