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Firefox 2.0 alpha 3 available

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Firefox 2.0 alpha 3 available today, including Google security features

by Anders Bylund

The next version of Firefox will come out of the virtual box with Google's anti-phishing tools built in. While the Googlified security services have been available through use of the Google Toolbar for either Firefox or IE6 for quite some time already, this marks the first default installation. And we all know how much Google values the defaults.

The phishing-prevention tool works by comparing every URL the browser encounters to a blacklist. The user can add and remove entries to/from the list, or simply point it to the official, actively maintained Google list of evildoers. In the Firefox incarnation, the feature will be named "Safe Browsing," and it's one of the highest-profile new features in the upcoming 2.0 release of Firefox.

Phishing has become a common method of identity theft, and any move toward more secure browsing by default should be welcomed by your average Joe and Jane Sixpack. To be sure, Microsoft has caught on to this growing need, and seems to be tired of always providing the punchline for unsafe browsing jokes. Would the software giant have been as vigilant about end-user security without significant competition? I wouldn't have bet on it. Market pressure and competition leads to many great things, and more secure browsers seem to be among them.

The Google connection should come as no surprise. Not only does Google pimp the IE-alternative browser through its referral program and the Google Pack, but the company also has several lead Firefox developers on its payroll. The browser seems to serve as a handy thorn to twist in Microsoft's side, and supporting that program is one way to deny Redmond a few MSN-by-default users.

A third alpha release of Firefox

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