The year 2012 will likely be a milestone for Mozilla’s Firefox web browser, as the open source group aims to further accelerate web innovation. Among the ways that Mozilla plans on improving Firefox in 2012 is by way of a number of efforts that could make the browser more secure for a greater number of users.
Mozilla makes incremental security updates with each release — such as the recent Firefox 9 update, which patched several security vulnerabilities. The open source browser vendor also works on making the overall platform more secure, which will be the core focus in 2012.
The hotfix feature will give Mozilla a way to patch a vulnerability or fix an important issue without requiring a full build. In some cases, there won’t even be a need to restart the browser.
The second effort is the upcoming “silent update” process. Nightingale noted that since the Firefox 4 release in March of 2011, Mozilla has been releasing new browsers every six weeks. That rapid release cycle has involved a certain amount of interruption for users who have to take the time to install the updates. Nightingale stressed that finding a way to apply updates quickly and without interruption will be the single most effective method to keep users safe online.
“What we’re building now is a system that is really quite silent,” Nightingale said. “If you want to be notified, of course you’ll still have that option.”
In contrast to a hotfix update, the silent update is a way of eliminating the interruption of entirely replacing an existing version of Firefox with a new version of Firefox.
“Every time we push a full update, we’re saying ‘Here is a new Firefox executable and a new set of associated libraries that have gone through a lot of development’,” Nightingale said.