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Experts are taking issue to a recent study which warned users of potential risk of using Firefox

A recent security study from Bit9 argued that Mozilla's Firefox was the most vulnerable application and thus a major threat to businesses.  One of the chief reasons it gave was the lack of a large-network patching system.  For this reason, despite recent security flaws, it did not consider Microsoft's Internet Explorer software, as it assumed that such a patching system dramatically lowered vulnerability.

Bit9 went as far as to suggest that enterprises block their employees from having access to Firefox and delete it from work computers.

Some firms, including Mozilla, were quick to take issue with Bit9's alarming comments.  Representatives from Mozilla's security branch, Human Shield contacted DailyTech with remarks on the topic.  The company's Johnathan Nightingale states, "While we're always happy to see stories that focus on educating our users about security, there are some problems with Bit9's methodology that hinder its ability to draw any meaningful conclusions."

According to Mr. Nightingale, by raising the "risk" of companies which disclose critical vulnerabilities, Bit9's study punishes openness, a critical key to security.  It rewards companies that keep their vulnerabilities secret, he argues.

He also criticizes Bit9's stance on patching, stating that the firm's claims fall short of reality.  He states, "Bit9 seems to understand (the need for smarter metrics) in its focus on application support for updates, but again it fails to account for the real world experience. Firefox does not deliver WSUS updates, but our built-in update mechanism requires no user intervention, and we consistently see 90% adoption within six days of a new update being released."

He concludes, "The Firefox vulnerabilities Bit9 discusses are long-since fixed, with the majority of these fixes coming within days of it being announced. That is the real measure of application security: are known vulnerabilities fixed promptly, tested carefully, and deployed thoroughly? Bug counting is unfortunately common because it's easy, but it should not be a substitute for real security measurement."

Similar sentiments were also echoed by various readers on DailyTech as well as several sources in the security business.  While the Bit9 study certainly takes a controversial and interesting position, according to many its claims are overly broad and flawed.  Whether this is the case is largely a matter of opinion, but one thing's for sure -- whether you're on Firefox, Opera, Chrome, or Internet Explorer, security is largely in the hands of the user.


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By gmyx on 12/18/2008 9:47:23 AM , Rating: 2
This is what my department is doing.

1. They are actively updating the firewall to block the bad sites.
2. The IE patch is being rolled out via SMS after testing.
3. The AV is being updated as soon as an update is available.
4. Monitoring for the signature on the network.
5. And more that I'm not aware of.

All this happens within 30 days of the patch being released. It looks like a big window, bit there is a lot of testing required.

They are even considering using FireFox in the not too distant future. The main concern is that 'Out of the box' FireFox does not support central updating - our internal network uses a distributed file system that reduces the overhead of distribution. All downloads are local to the user. Imagine 30k+ Firefox installations asking a single Internet connection to download the same file 30K+ times and you can see the problem.

The other concern is how to limit FF's ability to install add-ons. They want to manage and validate the add-ons before allowing them on the network, just like any other application.


By omnicronx on 12/18/2008 1:04:14 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
The main concern is that 'Out of the box' FireFox does not support central updating - our internal network uses a distributed file system that reduces the overhead of distribution.
http://www.frontmotion.com/products.htm
(FrontMotion Firefox Community Edition)

Not sure if you can use this to manage updates, but it gives the ability to control Firefox via Active Directory. They also make a special Firefox Deployment program that lets you configure Firefox with certain extensions, addons and settings for easy installation across your entire network.


By leexgx on 12/18/2008 2:42:23 PM , Rating: 2
if you use an caching proxy that should not be an problem

with any large network if your using an caching proxy if alot of users do access the same page even if its thorough the day it can save lots of bandwidth

well add-on just block the addon server

there should be an add-on for group polices tho


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