Jared Wein on behalf of Mozilla made an announcement two days ago that Mozilla had plans to remove the favicon from the Firefox browser's address bar. Firefox nightly users, who run the latest development releases of the browser, will already notice that the favicon has been removed in their versions.
You may now be wondering why Mozilla thought it be a good idea to remove the favicon from the address bar. Standard favicons help users identify websites, and there is nothing wrong with that. It becomes an issue however when malicious sites fake the secure site icon and display that to the user to make the user believe that the site uses a secure connection.
This should not be a issue for experienced users, as it is clear by the https protocol in the address bar whether a site is in deed using a secure connection using SSL or not. Inexperienced users on the other hand may have difficulties distinguishing fake secure websites from secure websites.
The browser distinguishes SSL certificates in the following way:
Websites that use SSL certificates with Extended Validation will now have a green padlock next to the certificate owner’s organization name.
Websites that use SSL certificates without Extended Validation will now have a grey padlock. The effective hostname will no longer appear next to the padlock. This information is redundant with our darkening of the effective hostname in the website address.
Websites that do not use SSL certificates or have mixed-content will fallback to a globe icon.
If you look at the way the information are presented, you will notice that it becomes difficulty to spot the differences on first glance. Especially SSL certifications without extended validation, and websites with mixed-content or no SSL certificate look very similar.
Firefox currently uses colors to distinguish different types of connections, which, with the exception of the green text when connecting to websites that use SSL certificates with extended validation, is no longer implemented in the browser. Mozilla is currently discussing plans to make the lock symbol darker, to make it more distinguishable from the globe icon.
Removing favicons can impact other functionality. It is now for instance no longer possible to drag and drop the favicon to the desktop or another location in the browser. Mozilla plans to release the changes to the release channel in mid-July.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.