Mozilla Firefox Removes Built-in FTP Support

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FireFTP Add-On For Mozilla Firefox

FireFTP is an easy-to-use FTP client software that works as a add-on for Mozilla Firefox web browser. It is free and can be used on windows, mac os x, and Linux.

Mozilla recently announced they would disable, then remove built-in FTP support in version 88 of Firefox, mirroring the removal of FTP from Chrome. This brings the browser closer to a fully-secure Web that is all HTTPS all the time.

Features

FTP supports client-server model architecture and has been in use for decades. Its major features include caching directory listings, support for passive mode, retransmission of failed commands, case-insensitive username and passwords, connection-to-site mappings, and ability to transfer files as a ZIP archive.

However, computer security experts have long advised against its use, as it transfers login information in unencrypted plain text, making the servers vulnerable to hacking. Besides, there are secure alternatives such as FTPS and SFTP.

Mozilla’s decision to remove its built-in FTP implementation comes after Google made a similar move with Chrome in 2021. As a result, users will have to use an FTP client to access FTP sites in Firefox after its official disablement in the upcoming version, Firefox 88, scheduled for release on April 19. However, it will be possible to re-enable the feature by changing a preference in about:config. This is a temporary measure, and the feature will be permanently removed in Firefox 90.

Requirements

FTP is an old protocol that sends login information in plain text, making it easy for hackers to steal and modify the data. Despite its insecurity, some websites still use FTP to serve up their content.

Mozilla plans to disable and later remove built-in FTP support in Firefox this year. The company’s blog notes that users won’t have to do anything to benefit from this security improvement; any browser auto-update to version 90 or later will automatically disable FTP. Other major browsers, including Chrome and Edge, have already stopped supporting FTP.

Although there are secure alternatives to FTP (including FTPS and SFTP), Mozilla doesn’t seem interested in improving its browser to support them. It’s possible that its reasoning is the same as Google’s: very few browser users even open FTP links, so it’s not worth the effort. Interestingly, Chrome developers first discussed removing FTP support in 2018, and the company finally eliminated it with Version 81 in 2021.

Installation

You can use Windows’ built-in FTP support to download Firefox on a PC without using Internet Explorer. This can come in handy if you hate IE and want to use a different browser to browse the web. Firefox supports a wide range of file formats, so it can be used for almost any task.

The FTP protocol sends login information in plain text, which makes it easy for hackers to steal and manipulate data. It also doesn’t use SSL or TLS encryption. Mozilla’s decision to drop support for FTP in Firefox is part of a larger effort to create a more secure Web.

The company began removing the feature in Firefox 88, which launched in April of this year, and will remove it completely in version 90. The company’s move follows similar efforts by Google and Edge to get rid of the technology. In both cases, the removal is expected to happen when users auto-update their browsers to version 90 or later.

Troubleshooting

FTP is generally reliable, but sometimes your download will just hang and never finish. This is usually due to congestion on the net, and can be remedied by trying again at a different time.

Some browsers do not handle FTP over HTTP correctly. This can cause them to fail to logon when credentials for non-anonymous logon are required. This can be resolved by using a browser that supports FTP over SSL/TLS or SFTP.

Starting with Firefox 88.0, Mozilla is disabling the ability to access FTP servers directly from the web browser. Instead, it will prompt users to install third-party FTP client applications such as FileZilla, WinSCP or Cyberduck that associate themselves as the default app to handle the protocol on their computer. This will continue until the release of Firefox 90, at which point the FTP code will be disabled completely. You can enable FTP support in Firefox by entering about:config in the address bar and accepting the risk, then searching for ftp and setting it to true.

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