Firefox criticised over 'unecessary' security warnings

Mozilla is being accused of creating undue fear and confusion for everyday web surfers, due to the new security feature in Firefox 3.0 that throws out a warning page when a website's SSL certificate is expired or has not been issued by a trusted third party.


The blog this week took Mozilla to task, saying the issue could affect tens of thousands of sites. "People most in need of a clear and explicit warning regarding SSL certificates are inexperienced users, and those are not very likely to understand the error message that Firefox 3 is displaying. A large portion will simply be scared away, thinking that the website is broken," according to the blog.

Developer Nat Tuck called the Firefox feature bad for the web in a blog post he wrote on 31 July. "Mozilla Firefox 3 limits usable encrypted (SSL) websites to those who are willing to pay money to one of their approved digital-certificate vendors. This policy is bad for the web."

Tuck concedes that the SSCs provide no value for authenticating a website, but he says Firefox is ignoring the encryption capabilities of SSL certificates, which thwart snooping on web traffic. He even goes so far as to suggest perhaps open source advocates should create a derivative of the open source Firefox code that includes full SSL functions. officials says SSCs have been treated as "disconcerting" for some time by the open source browser and what changed in Firefox 3.0 is an attempt to make users understand the potential consequences of accepting such certificates.