One of the problems with VPNs is that you're putting a lot of faith in your VPN provider. I trust Mozilla, and would gladly pay them for that service (I would use Freedome, but afaik they don't support Linux). However, it would have to be usable outside of my browser.
Tangentually, I wish Mozilla also offered paid email (or email with a premium plan), which is another service that requires a lot of trust. It would help provide alternative sources of income to keep Firefox alive, and Thunderbird could be a stunningly good email client if they had more resources to pour into it.
Mozilla's product is trust and control. Although they are non-profit, I see no issue with them offering paid services.
No, it's a secure connection to an HTTP/HTTPS proxy being run by Cloudflare. It isn't a general-purpose VPN.
I would love it if Mozilla offered an email service.
There are now billions of people accessing the web, so sometimes a web site needs the resources of a company like Cloudflare to handle traffic spikes.
Decentralized email has been a victim of its own success: because there is no central email authority, spammers and bots can easily flood email boxes. If you don't mind the spam, it's actually not hard at all to set up an email server, but most people hate spam, so most people don't want to set up an email server. There is no pure technological solution to spam, so we fall back on companies to help manage it.
Thanks for the reminder about Sandstorm. I intend to try it out sometime. I hope it's not dying.
I think it’s a shame, it’s a lovely concept. The Capability-based security alone is game-changing.
Details here: https://sandstorm.io/news/2018-08-27-discontinuing-free-plan
Is it right to say that the only reason Cloudflare is the forefront of this concern is because of their business model of offering the CDN for free, while the others have a much more limited free tier or service or none at all?
Scripts and other stuff from first party usually seem to me at least more trustworthy than something from a third party. It also saves me the mental step of thinking: "Hmmm, why are there scripts loaded from a third party? Is this some kind of ads stuff?"
If a website does not work without unblocking third party scripts, there is some chance, that I will simply abandon it. When a website's purpose is to inform me about something and I do not see the need for any interactivity, I might also abandon it, if it does not show content without unblocking scripts in general, including first party. Web frameworks, which do not take care of at least presenting something when scripts are not unblocked, thus make a website less trustworthy for me.
As I see it, "[i]f you don't know who you can trust to provide a trustworthy proxy service", you distribute trust among multiple providers, such that they must collaborate to pwn you. That's the basis of Tor. And you can do something similar, albeit far weaker, by using nested chains of VPN services.
Sadly, this is exactly what's being marketed as 'VPN' for about 5-10 years. Not sure who started this and whether we can ever correct this misuse of the term.
And a key point of VPN services is that they don't share the ISP-assigned IP addresses of their users with anyone else. And they don't retain any logs, which an adversary could obtain in one way or another. Indeed, the best ones run totally in RAM, and don't have writable storage.
Edit: Also, using "VPN" in that context is not at all deceptive. Enterprise VPNs not only provide secure access to private resources. They also provide secure (and yes, often controlled) access to the Internet generally. And that's just what VPN services do. Except, mostly, for the "controlled" aspect. Although some VPN services do feature blocking of malicious sites, malware downloads, etc. Some even block age-inappropriate content.
It should be called "proxy service" instead. Perhaps "proxy service using VPN technology".
Right now my only options are Gmail or running my own. I just don't trust other email providers.
And, yes, I've looked at Fastmail, Zoho, Protonmail and others.
Curious about the thought process that made you arrive to this conclusion.
Emails have a lot of information about my life.
I know what Google is doing with my emails, and as far as I can see Google is not going to die or be purchased by another entity.
With companies like Protonmail and others I just don't know. Even if I trust their current T&C, what happens if they are bought.
Also, while it is equally likely for Google to have rogue employees, I believe they will have more stringent safeguards then smaller companies.
Again, as I said, probably not a very good answer, but more gut driven. And, I say this as someone who is very conscious of privacy.
Not going to happen overnight and even then technically they cannot access your emails because only you hold the password to private keys (if you trust they encrypt your emails with your public key before storing). I prefer keeping my emails local so pop does the job.
Google can access your emails but something like protonmail can't (if you trust them to encrypt your emails).
It is main reason to use ProtonMail over Gmail.
Posteo is also running on green energy and free software, afaik, so that is a plus.
I like also that it is no problem to use in countries which block VPN, like China. I had no problems accessing Posteo, but no way of accessing Gmail.
It also does not nag me every single time I change the VPN server I use, because I seem to be in a different location. I know this is supposed to be a security feature of Gmail, but man is it annoying not to be able to access your mail, because of that.
In Posteo you can also activate 2FA afaik, if you like such thing.
It just works, and I am glad to be able to give support to free software, while at the same time I also gain from it, by having an e-mail service, which is ethically way more acceptable than Gmail and is working very well.
How does an HTTPS proxy work? will it be like how cloudflare does https with websites (mitm)?
I believe that's the goal. They're introducing a lot of services in the relatively short time span: Firefox Notes, Lockwise (password manager), Send (file-sharing service), Screenshots (image sharing service), and now a VPN.
After all these projects mature a bit, they're probably gonna slap a subscription on top and offer Firefox for free, Firefox + services for a price.
I'm personally totally fine with that way of diversifying their income. I already donate to Mozilla somewhat regularly, so the only thing that might prevent me from taking that offer is a steep price.
EDIT: Technically speaking, Pocket is kind of a bookmarking service with a built-in premium option already, but they're really, really not giving it love. "login with Google" button still has the lowercase "g" icon. That's like a two-minute fix that hasn't happened since 2015.
diversity of donors/customers has long-term benefits (better market insights, for example), so that lower tier is important to attract the less affluent. the higher tier is for techies like us who can better afford to support a more free and open internet.
1. If Mozilla email is used to support Firefox in part, then it will be overpriced. I am not sure if many would like to pay more than a token amount for charity.
2. Generally, software companies have increased tendency and incentive to horizontally expand because of the low barriers of entry. These incentives and tendencies are exactly what led to Microsoft and Google become these monopolies that exploit other players in the market to their advantage. I would rather Mozilla remain small, neither vertically integrated (like that attempt at FirfoxOS), or horizontally integrate (like offering email on top of a browser). I say this as someone who uses Thunderbird as their primary email client. The bazaar model of software development protects user freedoms more than the Cathedral model.
That's true only if a typical commercial email provider has no profit margin, which I don't believe to be the case.
And Google, of course, with a 50 state anti-trust probe opening against them, would probably fund Firefox for free just to desperately promote the idea of competition. I'm reminded about how Microsoft funded Apple during the MS monopoly era as a "see, we have competition" response to investigators.
Also, this constant killing and reviving of the Test Pilot brand looks incredibly short-sighted and stupid to me.
A VPN won't protect you from those, at all.
> You may often find yourself taking advantage of the free WiFi at the doctor’s office, airport or a cafe.
Which is why DNS over HTTPS ("DoH") should be the default but isn't. Combine that with DNS-Sec/Encrypted SNI DoH bootstrap (or better, don't bootstrap and provide a IP for the DoH endpoint). Then send most traffic via HTTPS and this is a solved problem, without giving an additional third party/parties access to your internet traffic.
This is likely the "least objectionable" VPN I've seen. But ultimately Firefox, if correctly configured, is already a secure browser even over unsecured WiFi, they just haven't taken the steps to make it secure by default.
And, yes, they could absolutely do both (secure out-of-box experience AND VPN product). I am simply pointing out they could solve this for all of their customers for almost free, Vs. this potentially paid offering.
>A VPN won't protect you from those, at all.
They aren't claiming that when you don't take it out of context:
>There are many ways that your personal information and data are exposed: online threats are everywhere, whether it’s through phishing emails or data breaches. You may often find yourself taking advantage of the free WiFi at the doctor’s office, airport or a cafe. There can be dozens of people using the same network — casually checking the web and getting social media updates. This leaves your personal information vulnerable to those who may be lurking, waiting to take advantage of this situation to gain access to your personal info.
They are trying to claim that public wifi is another threat alongside phishing and data breaches, not that this product protects you from the latter two.
There has been a ton of misinformation about VPNs, spread in particular by commercial VPN marketing teams. They've been paying people like prominent youtube content creators to say outlandish shit like "without a VPN, you can't securely check your gmail on wifi." Due to the nature of their advertising with content creators, it's hard to determine if the exaggerations and falsehoods are coming from the companies themselves or if they're coming from over-enthusiastic content creators who earnestly don't understand the matter themselves, but in either case I consider the companies responsible since they approve of the misleading messaging.
This "VPN" (which at least isn't explicitly called a VPN by Mozilla or Cloudflare) apparently shares the ISP-assigned IP addresses of users with Cloudflare-using websites.
How does that make it "least objectionable"? Because it doesn't obscure users' IP addresses?
My tests showed a very stable download speed of 150.3 Mbps and upload speed of 13.8 Mbps with a latency of 31ms.
The requests appear to be routed through the nearest Cloudflare data center , so the service likely reveals the coarse location of users through these proxy IP addresses.
I do not have an Enterprise account to check the True-Client-IP  header.
Someone from Mozilla really needs to clarify this.
By it you mean Firefox Private Network or Cloudflare Warp?
It would be disappointing if either are unable to help circumvent censorship.
Edit: It's pretty clear from the following comment that this is not a "VPN service", as most people understand it. So Mozilla is being extremely disingenuous in calling it one.
> > The intended use of the proxy service is to shield HTTP/HTTPS requests from eavesdropping by edge network providers such as public WiFi hotspots. Avoidance of geographical restrictions on content access is explicitly not a goal.
> > The Mozilla extension will always make a secure request to the Cloudflare network, regardless if the request is for TLS or plaintext
> (From Cloudflare's privacy notice: https://www.cloudflare.com/mozilla/firefox-private-network-p...)
I'm guessing this means the IP address is partially masked, but there is enough info to determine the region the request comes from? Maybe someone should test this?
Still, if this remains an open question, perhaps it's interesting enough to setup a website to test. I'd probably need at least an entry-level paid Cloudflare account, though.
Meanwhile, it'd be great if someone from Mozilla could clarify this. That is, does Firefox Private Network share users' IP addresses with websites? As Warp clearly does.
I couldn't find "vpn" anywhere in the article. I don't think they are calling it one.
But they are also not being at all clear that it's not a VPN service. They say:
> Internet Protocol (IP) addresses are hidden so it’s harder to track you – Your IP address is like a home address for your computer. One of the reasons why you may want to keep it hidden is to keep advertising networks from tracking your browsing history. Firefox Private Network will mask your IP address providing protection from third party trackers around the web.
Sure, you get to the end of that, and you see "providing protection from third party trackers around the web". But the bullet starts with talk about keeping your IP address hidden. How many will realize that it's not hidden from websites that you visit? Not many, I think. It's a dark pattern deception.
Mozilla encourages users and server operators to consolidate the internet around Cloudflare. I'm sure Cloudflare is loving Mozilla's enthusiasm in helping them build a new monopoly on the web.
Certain VPN providers have moved to fully libre Power based servers and are working to enable a fully user auditable production VPN server, which should become the baseline among VPN providers IMO.
> The Mozilla extension will always make a secure request to the Cloudflare network, regardless if the request is for TLS or plaintext
(From Cloudflare's privacy notice: https://www.cloudflare.com/mozilla/firefox-private-network-p...)
Now there's an interesting thought. Since the extension is routing requests at the application layer rather than at the network level, would it be possible to only route unencrypted HTTP requests through Cloudflare, while leaving encrypted HTTPS connections unaffected in order to avoid any latency penalty and save resources on Cloudflare's end?
I'd love an extension/VPN app that runs silently in the background and automatically routes unencrypted requests through a private connection, while simultaneously leaving encrypted connections untouched. Maybe even have a whitelist of trusted Wi-Fi networks where the system is automatically turned off.
Done right, a service like that could potentially allow users to use unencrypted Wi-Fi networks without having to worry about MITM attacks, without imposing any of the downsides that come with leaving a VPN running 24/7.
In practice though, I have no idea. It's entirely possible there's some subset of websites making bizarre, incorrect assumptions about the relationship between users and individual IP addresses, and that dividing HTTP and HTTPS requests between different IPs could break them.
If it turns out to be a problem, as a mitigation you could set it so that once you make a plaintext HTTP request to a specific domain without the response immediately redirecting to HTTPS, any future requests to that domain happen over the proxied connection for some period of time, regardless of whether those requests are HTTPS or not. That way full HTTPS sites would benefit from not needing to go through the proxy, whereas mixed content sites would not.
This thing is a simpler Cloudflare proxy that will get banned just like Tor from some places. Just give it time.
I understand that the current FCC is basically intentionally toothless, but that wasn't the case a few years ago, and doesn't necessarily need to be the case a few years from now.
Of course if somebody has none of these concerns, the Firefox Private Network is optional and they can decide not to use it.
And if you are in the US and your ISP is not Comcast, then it's probably Spectrum, ATT, Charter instead. Not highly trustworthy companies either
Simply connecting to these hotspots opens you up to location tracking unless you're able to randomize your MAC address, but after you connect it seems like common sense to prevent these companies from harvesting your browsing data as well.
(where "browsing data" is defined in both cases by the contents of DNS requests)
At minimum I'm more likely to trust that Cloudflare will uphold their contract with Mozilla than that my ISP (Spectrum) isn't happily selling out my browsing data -- and the ISP, unlike Cloudflare, knows my name and address.
If Mozilla want's to turn Firefox into a front end for Cloudflare, I will happily delete it right now.
Why is it a company with $500m/year in revenue can't run a few servers for this themselves? They have to outsource it to a company 1/5th their size.
If it's not under your physical control, it's not really your server.
edit: yeah, downvote me, corporate kids, welcome to the hacker prude network... and stay quiet /s
I'm still 100k+ on the wait-list for that one.
Also curious if Cloudflare is using fully audited and libre systems like some VPN providers do, so as o ensure privacy claims are worth the paper they are written on.
But increasingly, that's a damn small "Nobody else".
The article describes Firefox Private Network, which gives you a secure connection to an HTTP/HTTPS proxy server being run by Cloudflare. It's not a general purpose VPN and it is currently free. You can read Cloudflare's privacy notice here. Some highlights:
> The intended use of the proxy service is to shield HTTP/HTTPS requests from eavesdropping by edge network providers such as public WiFi hotspots. Avoidance of geographical restrictions on content access is explicitly not a goal.
> When requests are sent to the Cloudflare proxy, Cloudflare will observe your IP address (known as the source IP address), the IP address for the Internet property you are accessing (known as the destination IP address), source port, destination port, timestamp and a token provided by Mozilla that indicates that you are a Firefox Private Network user (together, “Proxy Data”). All Proxy Data will be deleted within 24 hours.
You may cancel your subscription to this VPN service at any time by clicking the “Cancel Subscription” link in any email that we send you. If you choose to cancel, your access to the service will stop immediately, and Mozilla will refund you for any unused portion of the service period within your then-current billing cycle. This means Mozilla will prorate your refund based on the remaining full days of the subscription period.
That's the quality and user centered experience I expect from Mozilla,
I still remember trying to cancel my audible subscription, and I ended up having to google it because it was so obfiscated.
I quite like the fact that once this goes mainstream, it'd help limit surveillance and bypass censorship on the web in one fell swoop without having to install or trust 3p other than the implicit trust in Mozilla and its partners (in this case, Cloudflare). Knowing Cloudflare, I'm sure this proxy is as much abt speed and latency as privacy and security.
For time being, it looks like this is available only in the US and only on desktop versions.
I'd like to point out though, that, one could run a Tor proxy (it also has a VPN mode) on their phones  today to workaround censorship and surveillance; anonymity is a bit tricky over tor-as-a-proxy.
The speeds over Tor are decent and nothing you can't tolerate whilst casual web browsing. It is probably going to be free forever unlike Firefox's private network.
Interestingly, Google has bundled WiFi Assitant (VPN) for free on Pixel devices sometime now: https://support.google.com/nexus/answer/6327199
I don't see what they get from you having an account with them if it isn't targeted advertising.
And example of this is Firefox send which requires an account to raise the download limit from 1.
For one, presumably Firefox-based traffic will go one way whereas network traffic from other apps will go elsewhere, which may provide either unexpected problems or be the cause of unintended data leakage as people believe their whole network experience is protected. I have similar concerns about the rumor Firefox is going to start defaulting to its own choice of DNS provider, which will tamper with both my personal ad blocking strategy (Pi-hole) and my corporate network strategy (internal DNS for internal apps).
I would rather web browsers browse websites and components that mess with networking be separate installable components that properly interact with the system's networking APIs.
 - https://blog.mozilla.org/futurereleases/2019/09/06/whats-nex...
 - https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/customizing-firefox-usi...
 - https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/customizing-firefox-usi...
When everything is moving towards one standard (for better or worse) it makes sense to put your eggs in that basket. Especially when that standard is also your bread & butter as is the case with Mozilla.
The people that this will appeal to will like this just fine I bet.
That all said, I don't like it much either. But I don't know if that's just resistance to change or actual technical reasons.
IMO it's technical reasons, all right. Problem being, software engineers are being sidelined as a subclass of users on the Internet, as the vast majority of traffic is now non-technical people accessing commercial services on-line. Under this influence, Internet is turning increasingly into cable TV.
I’ve found that Opera’s VPN would never work when I set myself to “Americas”, and always place me in the Netherlands.
Bandwidth in Asia and parts of the Americas is very expensive, whereas bandwidth in European datacenters is close to free.
“Americas” should be big enough for them to find something cheap to host a rack.
S3 certainly charges the least for US bandwidth.
That seems to be Techcrunch doing in that link. The Firefox website keeps the two phrases separate https://private-network.firefox.com/
Even my parents understand that cheap devices such as TVs spy on you as a tradeoff (or for greed. I'm not quite sure which it truly is)
Just signed up with a new Firefox account and tried it on Nightly on Windows.
Looks very nice.
Your Internet speed is 420 Mbps
Unloaded 10 ms
Loaded 71 ms
Upload Speed 300 Mbps
Server(s) Open Connect, Netflix