When Mozilla ships Firefox 52, on or around March 7, 2017, the browser will come with the cryptographic protocol TLS 1.3 on by default.

Martin Thomson, a principle engineer at Mozilla broke the news Wednesday in an email to Mozilla Development Platform members.

“TLS 1.3 removes old and unsafe cryptographic primitives, it is built using modern analytic techniques to be safer, it is always forward secure, it encrypts more data, and it is faster than TLS 1.2,” Thomson wrote.

TLS 1.3 is the latest version of the Transport Layer Security (TLS) Protocol, the successor to Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). It was first drafted more than two years ago, in April 2014, by the Internet Engineering Task Force.

Thomson said Mozilla tested the standard for incompatibility and didn’t find any issues. The company already has the developer tools and UI to support the protocol as well.

Mozilla initially implemented support for the protocol with Firefox 49 back in June. But to take advantage of it users had to change a parameter in the browser in order to turn it on by default. Starting in March, it will ship with draft 16 of the protocol and update to 17 as it becomes available.

Google previously implemented TLS 1.3 – but only in Chrome Canary, its experimental browser, and only if users turn it on in Flags, the browser’s hidden settings section.

TLS 1.3 is still a draft and viewable on the IETF’s website. The consortium is said to be close to settling on a final version of the protocol. The drafts the IETF develops are valid for six months. The current draft expires on March 26, 2017.

Cloudflare got an early jump on TLS 1.3 adoption and rolled out the specification to its customers last month.

Cloudflare’s Head of Cryptography Nick Sullivan lauded the protocol at the time, saying TLS 1.3 “removes the ‘bad crypto smell’ of legacy features, making it less likely that attacks on previous versions of the protocol will affect 1.3. ”

Sullivan said the move makes it easier to configure for server operators, and also results in a faster and better web browsing experience.

“When it comes to browsing, we’ve been driving around in a beat-up car from the ’90s for a while. Little does anyone know, we’re all about to trade in our station wagons for a smoking new sports car,” Sullivan said of TLS 1.3.

Categories: Cryptography, Web Security