VPNs: Mozilla just added these new feature to its virtual private network

Mozilla plans to bring its VPN service to more countries in the second quarter of 2021.

Mozilla, the maker of the Firefox browser, has launched two new features as part of its virtual private network offering that launched last year.

Mozilla launched the VPN service last year at $5 a month. It's available in the US, the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, and Malaysia.

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The Mozilla VPN will now tell users when they've joined a network that doesn't require a password or is using weak encryption. The notification on Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and iOS tells users when they're on a poorly secured network, which may be helpful as restrictions ease and people are more comfortable travelling around again.

On the home front, Mozilla has added Local Area Network Access, to allow devices to communicate together while the VPN is still active. Users need to check a box in Network Settings when connected to a home network. 

"Occasionally, you might need to print out forms for an upcoming doctor visit or your kid's worksheets to keep them busy," Mozilla notes. 

"Now, we've added Local Area Network Access, so your devices can talk with each other without having to turn off your VPN. Just make sure that the box is checked in Network Settings when you are on your home network. This feature is available on Windows, Linux, Mac and Android platforms."

Also: VPN: Picking a provider and troubleshooting tips (free PDF) TechRepublic

As for the VPN's expanded availability, Mozilla says that it will bring the service to more countries in the spring timeframe. Mozilla has faced questions about how the service will work. The browser maker has published an FAQ and support pages for both the browser extension and the full-device VPN product

In a crowded VPN market, Mozilla hopes to stand out by offering fast browsing; it said its VPN is based on the WireGuard protocol's 4,000 lines of code, which it said is a fraction in size of legacy protocols used by other VPN service providers.