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Firefox 74 offers privacy and security updates – Naked Security


Just a month after shipping version 73 of its Firefox browser, Mozilla has released version 74 with a range of privacy and security enhancements. These include a privacy tweak to the way it handles the WebRTC multimedia streaming protocol.

Mozilla had promised some of its changes months or even years ago, but an unexpected addition is mDNS ICE, which improves privacy in peer-to-peer communications.

ICE stands for Interactive Connectivity Establishment, and it’s a technique used in VoIP and peer-to-peer connections within network address translation (NAT) environments. NAT boxes remap IP address spaces between networks. They enable you to use addresses on your local network (like 192.168.1.100) that don’t clash with those on the wider internet.

ICE uses ‘candidates’ that provide alternatives for connections in a NAT environment. These candidates, which contain IP address and port information, increase the chance of successful connections on unmanaged networks by helping the other party find its way to the right computer behind a NAT connection.

The problem with that, as this IETF draft explains, is that ICE candidates expose private IP addresses to web applications by default, creating potential privacy issues. This applies to WebRTC, which is a browser-based peer-to-peer real-time communications standard. You can use WebRTC for video conferencing or monitoring IP cameras without needing to install separate applications.

Firefox 74 fixes the problem by using multicast DNS (mDNS) with ICE to create a random ID that cloaks a computer’s IP address. That makes WebRTC communications more private.

Another big change concerns sideloading. This is the practice of automatically installing extensions without users taking action. In Firefox 74, users must manually install the extensions that they want, and they can also remove previously sideloaded extensions using the add-ons manager (although they’ll have to do this manually). Developers will still be able to push updates to previously-sideloaded extensions, Mozilla said.

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