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New Firefox browser to cut malware by half

The next version of Mozilla's Firefox aims to cut malware in half by preventing malicious downloads.

The web browser has utilised Google's Safe Browser phishing and malware protection software for years to protect users from visiting malicious sites. The protection feature works by checking sites against a list of reported phishing and malware sites that Firefox downloads from Google's service.

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Now Firefox is also able to use the Safe Browsing feature to monitor malicious downloaded files as well as websites. The feature will work in a similar way, by comparing downloaded files against a list of known malicious files and then blocking them from infecting the user's system.

Moreover, the next release of the web browser, due in September, will go even further to prevent malware downloads. Firefox will verify the signature of a downloaded file, and if it is signed, compare it against a list of known safe publishers.

For files which the software cannot identify as safe or as malware, Firefox asks Google's Safe Browsing service if the file is safe by sending it some of the download's metadata. However, Firefox will only send data to Google if a file is not signed.

Preliminary tests found that this reduced the amount of malware that got through the web browser's security by half.

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The firm also said that while it felt the recent security developments were important, the choice would ultimately be left to the user. Anyone who does not wish to send download data to Google can disable the new malware protection.