The new Firefox 3 has a bunch of cool features. One uncool feature: A habit of telling you that perfectly functioning sites, like those run by the U.S. Army and by Yahoo, are unsafe.
The problem: The folks at Mozilla are being overprotective. Specifically, they’ve made the new browser very sensitive to a digital authentication technology called SSL Certificates.
An SSL Certificate is basically a digital signature telling you that the person that owns the site you’re visiting is actually who you think it is — i.e., Yahoo, and not a hacker out to steal your personal info. Firefox 3 is particularly wary of certificates that haven’t been independently authorised by a certificate authority (kind of like a notary), or whose certificates have expired. When it finds one, it shows surfers an error message informing them that a “secure connection failed.” Users can still get to the page they’re looking for, but not before jumping through multiple hoops.
Pingdom, which monitors Web sites’ downtime, notes that prominent sites have run afoul of FF’s security snare include those run by the Army; other people have posted screenshots of various popular sites being caught in Firefox 3’s security net — including this Yahoo page.
(C) 2008 Yuval Levy all rights reserved.
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