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Firefox is even more riddled with holes than IE, says security firm Secunia, but Mozilla does win props for patching them faster. Mozilla's Firefox browser has stolen a sizable chunk of marketshare away from Microsoft's once-ubiquitous Internet Explorer -- its popularity fueled largely by concerns over security weaknesses in IE. Now, the picture isn't quite so clear.

Secunia has debunked a myth held dear by Linux devotees and anti-Microsoft grousers: that Firefox is safer than Internet Explorer.

There were 115 reported security vulnerabilities in Firefox last year -- almost twice as many as Internet Explorer and Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) Safari browser combined, according to a new report by the security researcher. Firefox did surpass IE in one respect, though. Mozilla was much faster at repairing bugs once they were reported or discovered than Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) was.

The Secunia report follows on the heels of the release of Mozilla's new Firefox 3 browser -- 3.0.7, which includes fixes for several security problems. Three of the patches in the new browser addressed critical flaws that could -- if not remedied -- give a hacker the ability to remotely execute code on a computer.

In response to a request for comment, Mozilla directed TechNewsWorld to its blog post on the subject, which was still dark when the article was filed.

Browser Wars
IE is the dominant browser in the marketplace by far -- but its share is steadily eroding, thanks to inroads made by Firefox, Safari and other alternatives.

Last month, Net Applications issued a report finding that all three browsers -- IE, Firefox and Safari -- had reached new milestones: IE accounted for 67.6 percent of browser users in January 2009, its lowest percentage of market share since Net Applications began following the space. Meanwhile, Firefox and Safari achieved new highs: 21.53 percent and 8.29 percent, respectively.

A report by StatCounter Global Stats found that Microsoft's combined IE 7 and IE 6 marketshare fell from 68 percent last July to 63 percent in February 2009. Firefox 3 and 2 grew from 25 percent last July to 27 percent by February.

One reason IE's popularity is dropping -- ironically, considering Secunia's finding -- is its perceived security and stability issues. To cite just one example, Microsoft has had to release two out-of-band security updates in recent months in order to plug vulnerabilities that were being widely exploited by hackers. It was a double-edged sword for Microsoft: An IE vulnerability was putting consumers and enterprises at risk, but the company's fast response should have been praised. Yet Firefox won the PR battles on both issues, largely because its flaws have not been in the spotlight as much.

More Marketshare, More Problems
While there are valid criticisms that can be levied about the bugs and flaws in IE -- as well as Microsoft's responsiveness in fixing them -- it must be pointed out the company's market share is working against it, especially in an apples-to-apples comparisons of which browser is better, faster or more secure.

"I don't know for a fact whether Mozilla does fix bugs faster than Microsoft -- perhaps it very well is true," Rohyt Belani, CEO of Intrepidus Group, told TechNewsWorld.

"What I do know is that Microsoft has a much larger share of the market, and hackers will always target Microsoft more than they do Firefox or Safari," he said.

In terms of development practices, though, Belani would not say that one browser was more secure than any other.

Patch Management
Another issue to take into account is user behavior -- specifically, patch management practices.

In theory, releasing a bug patch faster reduces the Zero Day window or threat level, said Derek Manky, security and cyber threat researcher for Fortinet's FortiGuard global security research team.

"In reality, though, that is not the case," Manky told TechNewsWorld.

The Conficker worm, for instance, has been particularly relentless and damaging. It was actually patched very quickly by Microsoft, Manky pointed out. For two months after the patch was released, activity was quiet -- then began to pick up.

The lesson, of course, is that administrators are not applying the patches as quickly as they should, he said.
LinuxInsider
 

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No browser is any more secure than the idiot that launched it.

IE, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, NONE of them can protect the user from their own stupidity....
 

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Originally Posted by TestECull View Post
No browser is any more secure than the idiot that launched it.

IE, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, NONE of them can protect the user from their own stupidity....
omg omg omg that banner has smiley faces and pretty flashing colors i must click it!!!!

^ whats going threw most users minds


and people wonder why they get viruses
 

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Originally Posted by RoboGrassanoid View Post
firefox may not be secure, but how bout firefox running adblocker plus & noscript?
it's a fortress.
I don't think I've gotten a single virus, besides from my own stupidity; while using firefox + adblock/noscript.
 

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"Oooh look - apparently I have won a free holiday to Florida!"

*5 Mins Later*

"Apparently I also have viruses installed...I'd better agree to installing this Anti-Virus program I have never heard of..."

So the cycle begins.
 

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Just because a product has more holes doesn't mean its less secure.





Which barrier is more secure? Which one has more "holes"?
 

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Originally Posted by xxhaloownerxx View Post
I don't think I've gotten a single virus, besides from my own stupidity; while using firefox + adblock/noscript.
Agreed.
 

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Microsoft doesn't have an adequate system for reporting bugs, and it's not open source, so people can't look for security holes as easily. As an open source project, Mozilla has a bug tracking mechanism. So yeah, Mozilla will have more bugs because there is more opportunity for reporting bugs. Such a mechanism should better allow Mozilla to handle a larger market share.

This point is also important: If you're going to compare security of a browser, you need to compare the default settings to each other. Most users will not be messing with the security settings of their browser.

Lastly, their last point about "Patch Management" doesn't help their point. Here ya go:
 

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The idea that FF was safer was probably true when it was first released, as not many nasty viruses were tailored to target it specifically, as there were for IE.

I seriously doubt that is the case now.
 

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Originally Posted by Mach 5
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The idea that FF was safer was probably true when it was first released, as not many nasty viruses were tailored to target it specifically, as there were for IE.

I seriously doubt that is the case now.

Similar situation for Macs...

Mac fanboys are constantly going on and on about how there are no viruses for Macs. That's because the Mac base isn't big enough to warrant a ton of virus creation. (Note: Viruses aren't just 'made' out of thin air to attack all electronics, they need to be programmed like any other program - often times more cleverly)

The more Mac takes the market share, the more Mac viruses there will be.
 

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Quote:


Originally Posted by RoboGrassanoid
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firefox may not be secure, but how bout firefox running adblocker plus & noscript?
it's a fortress.

Now this is completely true,i've had first-hand experience with that set of software.
 

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Originally Posted by version2
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Microsoft doesn't have an adequate system for reporting bugs, and it's not open source, so people can't look for security holes as easily. As an open source project, Mozilla has a bug tracking mechanism. So yeah, Mozilla will have more bugs because there is more opportunity for reporting bugs. Such a mechanism should better allow Mozilla to handle a larger market share.

This point is also important: If you're going to compare security of a browser, you need to compare the default settings to each other. Most users will not be messing with the security settings of their browser.

Lastly, their last point about "Patch Management" doesn't help their point. Here ya go:


Based on 2006 results.. Cool dude, your behind 3 years!

Quote:


Originally Posted by Sacre
View Post

Similar situation for Macs...

Mac fanboys are constantly going on and on about how there are no viruses for Macs. That's because the Mac base isn't big enough to warrant a ton of virus creation. (Note: Viruses aren't just 'made' out of thin air to attack all electronics, they need to be programmed like any other program - often times more cleverly)

The more Mac takes the market share, the more Mac viruses there will be.


Mhmm...

Or, how about you make a Mac virus, and since EVERYONE on mac's think their safe, they wouldnt know there was a virus, and a huge majority of the mac users catch it. Hm?

Seriously, your argument has been said by 1000's of others, and its bs anyways. Unix is less prone to virus's than windows.

*note less prone*

Saying Mac having no marketshare so it doenst have virus's is like saying Linux has no marketshare so no virus's, yet most of the servers in the world are running linux, which would by prime targets...
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Quote:


Originally Posted by RoboGrassanoid
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firefox may not be secure, but how bout firefox running adblocker plus & noscript?
it's a fortress.

The IE equivalent is called IE7Pro. I highly recommend it.

I'm sure plugins help make browsers more secure, but I don't think the everyday Joe Schmoe knows enough to install them.
 

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I've been an avid firefox user since the original ALPHA snapshots, and I've never been hit by any virus....spyware was only a slight issue until noscript/adblock came around, now I don't even worry about it.

Seriously, the first thing I do when I install a windows OS is load the drivers to get internet connection, then install firefox with noscript and addblock.
 

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i haven't gotten a single virus for the past 3 years without any modifications to my browsers or any antivirus
my secret? smart browsing and common sense!
 

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I like Firefox for a few reasons

1. Bookmarks bar, nuff said
2. Add-ons can make it rock solid and more functional than IE (I'm looking at you NoScript and FlashGot)
3. Themes are a nice touch.

I'll admit I haven't used Internet Explorer on my machine for a while, but Firefox seems to behave snappier and be less temperamental in my own experience.
 
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