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Firefox Tightens Web Security Clamps

Waaaaaaaaaaaaay back in 2004, I wrote a book about spyware, viruses and malware. I believe that gives me some justification for sensitivity to — and some knowledge of — online security matters. This morning, I was surprised when Firefox refused access to some sites I visit daily. I was also quick to tune into a browser security foil. Of the dozen sites I visit each morning to check for Win10 news, Firefox refused me access to Thurrott.com and MSPowerUser.com. “Oho!” I thought to myself, “looks like Firefox tightens web security clamps.” The error message that comes up for such pages more or less confirms my analysis:

The key phrase here is “Please contact the website owners to inform them of this problem.” Both sites come up fine in Chrome and Edge.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

When Firefox Tightens Security Clamps, Use a Different Browser

As I watched Firefox attempt to connect to these sites, I noticed it hung for a long while (waiting for some kind of TCP timeout to occur, I imagine) at “Waiting for sitename …” Turns out there’s a Firefox support note about this kind of thing. It’s entitled “Secure connection failed and Firefox did not connect.” It explains that some kind of site security check failed during the connection phase. Furthermore, it looks like the most likely cause is an expired or missing security certificate. When you notify the site operator about the error, as instructed, you’re letting them know about a potential problem of this kind.

So here’s what I sent to MSPowerUser.com using their “Contact Us” form (I did likewise with Thurrott.com as well):

Text for my report to the site owner, as suggested in the Firefox error message text.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Even though Firefox isn’t a major player in the browsersphere (this morning, NetMarketShare says it has an 8.22% share) I’m sure the site owners still want to know about this. That’s why I sent those contact messages to both of them. Interesting!

[Note added 10 minutes after posting this blog] The Thurrott.com and MSPowerUser.com teams are definitely on the ball. Both sites now come up just fine in Firefox. That’s why notification is so important. If this ever happens to you, I suggest you do likewise with the affected site’s contact form. It’s nice and encouraging when things work like they’re supposed to. Cheers!

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