Mozilla is giving advertisers yet another route to placing content in front of consumer eyeballs, as a new development build of Firefox provides a home for sponsored ads under new tabs.

Firefox Nightly and its experimental builds serve as Mozilla's test kitchen for the browser and it was where the idea of baking sponsored ads into new tabs was prototyped. The feature could be wiped before ever releasing to the public, but the idea of the new ad channel may linger much longer in the minds of those who've witnessed it.

In the latest nightly build of Firefox, marketers can pay to advertise in the directory tiles that appear under a new tab. The current iteration of the feature uses no user data to try to deliver even slightly relevant ads into the directory.

"New Firefox users are given a set of tiles, or Directory Tiles, as suggestions for sites of interest," says Mozilla in explaining directory tiles. "These Directory Tiles are eventually replaced by History Tiles based on the user's most frequently visited sites. The list of directory tiles given to new users is built from the popular tiles of other Firefox users."

Tiles that were added due to a "commercial relationship with Mozilla" are marked as "sponsored," says Mozilla.

Users can brush away a sponsored ad by clicking the tile's "Remove this Site" option, though another ad will appear in its place. Sponsored tiles can be turned off by choosing the Firefox's "Classic" option and there's also an option to blank the entire directory section under new tabs.

While Mozilla's introduction of sponsored tiles may worry some, Firefox's latest security update should come as welcome news. Firefox 32, the upcoming release of the browser, features support for native pins, allowing the browser to settle on a list of trusted authentication authorities and helping users avoid falling prey to compromised certificate issuers, according to a post released by Monica Chew, lead privacy engineer Mozilla.

"Public Key Pinning helps ensure that people are connecting to the sites they intend," says Chew. "Pinning allows site operators to specify which certificate authorities (CAs) issue valid certificates for them, rather than accepting any one of the hundreds of built-in root certificates that ship with Firefox. If any certificate in the verified certificate chain corresponds to one of the known good certificates, Firefox displays the lock icon as normal."

In similar move, Microsoft announced that it has removed approximately 1,500 apps it felt were misleading customers. The security measures taken by Microsoft and Firefox come as attempts to intercept consumer data increase in both complexity and frequency.

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