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Mozilla Launches Website Security Testing Tool

Mozilla has released a free tool that allows website developers and administrators to determine if they are using all available security technologies at their full potential.

Mozilla has released a free tool that allows website developers and administrators to determine if they are using all available security technologies at their full potential.

The tool, named “Observatory,” was developed by Mozilla Information Security Engineer April King in an effort to help the organization test its own domains. Observatory has now been made available to everyone along with its source code.

Observatory performs nearly a dozen tests, including Content Security Policy (CSP), Contribute.json, cookies, cross-origin resource sharing (CORS), HTTP Public Key Pinning (HPKP), HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS), redirections, subresource integrity, and X-Content-Type-Options, X-Frame-Options and X-XSS-Protection headers.

“You may not have heard of many of them, and that’s because their documentation is spread across thousands of articles, hundreds of websites, and dozens of specifications,” King explained.

After they run a scan, users are provided a score for each test. This score shows how well each standard is implemented and provides recommendations for improvements. The application also provides an overall score and grades the verified website.

Mozilla has used Observatory to scan more than 1.3 million websites on the Web and found that over 90 percent of them don’t take advantage of all the available security technologies. For instance, only 30 percent of websites use HTTPS and less than 7 percent rely on the other security measures tested by the tool.

“Observatory is currently a very developer-focused tool, and its grading is set very aggressively to promote best practices in web security. So if your site fails Observatory’s tests, don’t panic — just take a look at its recommendations and consider implementing them to make your site more secure,” King said.

The Mozilla security engineer also pointed out that the results from Observatory might not be accurate for all sites considering that the security needs of a complex website are different from the ones of a simple site, such as a personal blog.

Similar to other Internet giants, Mozilla has been pushing for a wider adoption of HTTPS. At the beginning of the year, the company informed developers that Firefox Developer Edition would display a warning icon when a website requested passwords over HTTP.

Related: 95% of HTTPS Servers Vulnerable to Trivial Connection Hijacking

Related: Apple Wants All iOS Apps to Use HTTPS by 2017

Related: WordPress.com Pushes Free HTTPS to All Hosted Sites

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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