IDN and Pale Moon: know your browser.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Pale Moon browser and their answers.
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IDN and Pale Moon: know your browser.

Post by Moonchild » 2017-04-28, 20:43

Since there has been a lot of buzz lately about the age-old issue with IDNs (international-character domain names) spoofing well-known domains, people seem to be confused about what Pale Moon does to mitigate this. In short it comes down to knowing your browser and paying attention to what the browser indicates.

The address bar has a dedicated area where site identity information is displayed (the identity panel):
IDpanel.png (5.09 KiB) Viewed 8261 times
For normal (http) sites, this panel normally only displays the site's icon, and will blend in with the rest of the address bar.
For https sites, this panel is either blue or green, and displays the secure domain or the domain's verified owner, respectively.
blue.png (1.94 KiB) Viewed 8261 times
green.png (1.87 KiB) Viewed 8261 times
If you are visiting a phishing site using an IDN to try and spoof the original domain, this identity panel, since 27.3.0, will clearly display the "raw" code of the IDN (also called "punycode", a domain starting with "xn--") instead of what the site is trying to spoof:
spoofed-epic.png (2.77 KiB) Viewed 8261 times
So, before you enter any login details, always, ALWAYS check the identity panel to see if the site is secure (padlock shown) and displaying the domain or owner you expect.
If you want more details, you can also click on the padlock.

For people who also want to have http sites (white) display the punycode if an IDN is visited, that is possible by going into about:config, and setting browser.identity.display_punycode to a value of 2. This is not the default, because http is used for display of public information, and phishing from an http site immediately falls short by not showing a secure connection. As such, doing this for http sites by default would in most cases simply be unnecessary to include, and annoying for anyone regularly visiting international-address websites.

I've chosen to approach the problem this way, because it will still allow you to enter international character domain names, while giving you the tools to verify that your visit is to the server you expect.
"Son, in life you do not fight battles because you expect to win, you fight them merely because they need to be fought." -- Snagglepuss


Re: IDN and Pale Moon: know your browser.

Post by joe04 » 2017-04-29, 03:47

Thanks for adding this, Moonchild. Pale Moon already had the best address bar, and now it's that much better.

FYI -- here's the link for the fake "" demo page in the above screenshot:

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Re: IDN and Pale Moon: know your browser.

Post by back2themoon » 2017-04-29, 16:25

Good info and update, thanks.
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Re: IDN and Pale Moon: know your browser.

Post by khronosschoty » 2017-04-29, 18:52

Nice update; thank you.