Firefox Had More Bugs Than IE and Safari Combined

Security

Firefox surpassed IE in the number of bugs reported in the software in 2008, say security researchers

Nearly twice as many security vulnerabilities were found in the Firefox browser compared to IE and Apple Safari combined, according to new research.

Firefox had 115 security vulnerabilities reported in 2008, according to browser vulnerability research released by Secunia late last week.

However, the news is not all bad, as the same report showed that Mozilla was much quicker to respond than Microsoft when flaws were publicly disclosed either prior to or without vendor notification.

Three Firefox vulnerabilities were publicised last year under those conditions. All three were patched, with the longest patch taking 86 days to arrive, according to Secunia. For IE, however, only three of the six such vulnerabilities were patched as of 31 December. One of the IE vulnerabilities remained open for 294 days in 2008, according to the report.

The report noted that not all vulnerabilities are created equal. The three aforementioned Firefox flaws were rated “less critical,” while the Microsoft vulnerabilities were more of a mixed bag. The three unpatched IE flaws were rated either “not critical” or “less critical.” Two of the patched bugs were classified as “moderate” and “high,” while the third patched bug was considered “less critical.”

On 4 March, Mozilla released an update plugging eight security holes in Firefox 3.07, of which six were rated critical. The vulnerabilities affect the browser’s garbage collection, PNG libraries, layout and JavaScript engines.

The critical vulnerabilities could enable hackers to run arbitrary code. But there is also a vulnerability rated “high” that could allow a Web site to use nsIRDFService and a cross-domain redirect to steal private data from users authenticated to the redirected Web site.

The update came a day after Opera Software issued a security update for its browser, and roughly a week after Apple released a beta version of Safari 4.