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This Add-On provides the classic padlock icon with the classic semantic.
The padlock icon will be shown when connecting successfully to a site using the https protocol. (The behaviour is equivalent to that of older Firefox versions.)
As you might already have noticed, Firefox 4 no longer displays a padlock icon by default. Instead Firefox now uses an Site Identity Button. An area to the left of the web page address is being used to indicate the security/identity state of a connection. The presence of additional coloured text to the left of the address bar is meant to notify the user about the level of verified identification information that comes with the connection to the site. This identity notifier implies that an encrypted connection is being used.
When visiting a site with mixed security, i.e. some content shown by the site was loaded without an appropriate security channel, Firefox will only drop the identity indicator to the left of the address bar. This might be difficult to notice. Therefore, on such sites this Add-On will display a "broken" padlock (again this is the classic behaviour seen before Firefox 4).
In order to draw attention to the new Identity Button, this Add-On displays the padlock icon inside the new identity button. However, you can change this default and configure your preferred location for the padlock icon (e.g. location bar left or right, status/add-on bar, or tab bar).
Starting with version 0.5.0, this Add-On provides additional features. For most of them, you will have to use the Add-On preferences to enable them.
- For sites that get a green identity button, this Add-On will show a small passport icon right next to the padlock icon. The intention is to help users who have trouble to distinguish the blue vs. green Site Identity Button states used by Firefox.
- You are aware that some sites do not use proper security, and therefore no closed padlock icon is shown. The Firefox default behaviour is to simply stop showing the colored identity button.
But consider this scenario. You visit your bank. You check the security status. Things look good. You view your account balance. You click to start a money transfer. For some reason your connection no longer uses proper security. Now I ask you: Will you notice that the colored identity area or the closed padlock went away?
In my opinion, it's useful to show an icon to signal that connection state. In my opinion, simply dropping a colored area is not a sufficient signal.
If you concur, this Add-On gives you the choice to enable a reminder icon when proper security is currently not being used. You can pick either a black open padlock, or an eye icon. The idea is, whenever the "open padlock" or the "eye icon" is shown, it's probably too easy for hackers to view your information.
- In some past versions of Firefox, the location bar (https://...) used a colored background whenever a site deserves the closed padlock. Some other browsers still do it. If you like this behaviour, this Add-On allows you to enable it. You have the choice to use a yellow background whenever a site deserves the padlock. In addition, you can choose a different, green background for Extended Validation sites.
- This Add-On actually allows you to NOT show the closed golden padlock. Some people may prefer to use only the reminder icon for sites lacking proper security.
You might ask, why do I still suggest a padlock? I have heard the argument that the padlock might be misleading. I agree that showing a padlock alone is not sufficient, because the world is more complex than telling users "you're secure" or "you're not secure". It's a good idea to show additional information, but in my opinion, this intention doesn't justify removing a well known indicator altogether. I welcome the introduction of the new identity button that gives additional information about the level of identity verification that has been performed. On the other hand, in order to get a padlock, the connection must be encrypted and we must have verified a site is using a certificate that demonstrates domain ownership, so in my opinion, showing a padlock still has value. Furthermore, that's what people are used to and have been trained to look for. In my opinion it's a reasonable approach to use a padlock icon to draw the attention to the area where identity information is displayed.
In my opinion, color is not a sufficient mechanism to transport information. Also, it fails for users who cannot distinguish colors. That's why I added a passport icon, next to the padlock icon, whenever Firefox treats a site as an Extended Validation site.
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