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Print 95 comment(s) - last by Tomcatter.. on Dec 9 at 11:55 PM

A recent Microsoft took a rather insulting stab at Mozilla, so the open-source firm decide to do some trash talking of its own.

Mozilla is all hustle and bustle these days, trying to fix the remaining bugs before it rolls out its final release of the third iteration of its popular Firefox browser.

Perhaps catching wind of the press on these bugs, Microsoft released a security report on November 30, titled "Internet Explorer and Firefox Vulnerability Analysis".  The report, which examined the quantity and threat level of vulnerabilities within the two browsers, came out very strongly skewed in Microsoft's favor.  It reported that Internet Explorer experienced fewer threats across all security levels (low, medium, and high) than Firefox.  It also reported that Mozilla had to fix 199 security vulnerabilities, while in the same period of time Microsoft only had to fix 87.

Microsoft products are not always known as secure platforms, largely because they are the market leader and the biggest target for malicious attacks.  Not so, the report indicates, when it comes to Internet Explorer.

The report was produced by Microsoft's Jeff Jones, a security strategy director in Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing group and is available, here.

Mozilla's Mike Shaver had some choice words in response to the report.

"Just because dentists fix more teeth in America doesn't mean our teeth are worse than in Africa," he said, said left handedly comparing Internet Explorer to a festering tooth.

He continued, "It's something you'd expect from maybe an undergrad.  It's very disappointing to see somebody in a senior security position come out and say that because an organization is more transparent about their bugs and fixing them, they're somehow less secure."

Shaver says the analysis is lazy and possibly "malicious."

He does raise a valid point that Microsoft often lump several security issues together into a single "threat" that gets fixed irregularly with the arrival of the service pack.  Shaver points out that Mozilla has constantly been working to roll out fixes far more quickly than Microsoft's.  Shaver explains:
"If Mozilla wanted to do better than Microsoft on this report, we would have an easy path: stop fixing and disclosing bugs that we find in-house. It is well known that Microsoft redacts release notes for service packs and bundles fixes, sometimes meaning that you get a single vulnerability 'counted' for, say, seven defects repaired. Or maybe you don't hear about it at all, because it was rolled into SP2 and they didn't make any noise about it."

Shaver says in his blog, that we would have to be in a "parallel universe" for Microsoft to even "approach Mozilla's standard of transparency.”

In an interview with eWeek, he continued to vent, saying, "The vast majority [of the Firefox user base] is updated to the most secure version of Firefox in less than a week;  those are the things we measure and talk about publicly. Reports like [Jones'] really point the industry in a dangerous direction, which is to say you're [given an incentive] to keep [browser security fixes] quiet. That doesn't keep you safer, it just helps companies hide the real nature of what they're doing."

Earlier last month Jones had published a report on how Windows Vista was far less vulnerable than Leopard OS X or most Linux OS distributions.

Many will be sick of Microsoft and Mozilla's bickering, but when they attack each other so publicly, it’s simply hard to ignore.  This is unfortunate as it simply leaves the user feeling less secure and unsure of who to trust.



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RE: Sometimes I wish
By Alexstarfire on 12/3/2007 5:40:41 PM , Rating: 4
What world do you live in? I don't see Microsoft making there platform THAT much more secure. It seems to me that they only make it secure enough so the majority of the mass doesn't complain about it. I know you can't predict all security threats on a piece of software, but you shouldn't be rolling out multiple updates per month to fix holes.


RE: Sometimes I wish
By TomZ on 12/3/2007 7:21:49 PM , Rating: 2
I guess you don't understand the nature of security threats. First, let me say that for Vista, Microsoft went through and did a lot of security audits and re-wrote a lot of old code to clean up security issues. IE7 and recent releases of Office got the same treatment.

Second, continuous updates are part of the security strategy. The reason is that the threat is continually changing, with hackers coming up with new types of exploits practically daily. Since it is literally impossible to anticipate all future attacks, to some degree it is necessary to fortify code based on emerging attack trends. The updates deliver these changes.

And I agree, Microsoft is not shooting for "perfect" security, because it is not actually possible to achieve that. That is why you see some security problems that are discovered not get updated since the possibility of them being exploited is so low. Microsoft focuses its resources on areas that are important, which is rational and reasonable.


RE: Sometimes I wish
By Targon on 12/3/2007 7:45:42 PM , Rating: 3
The problem still remains that Microsoft has yet to make a significant update to IE in terms of the engine....ever. It's almost impossible to fix problems with the fundamental design of a program by doing these little updates here and there. IE is flawed by design, and many so-called fixes are just work-arounds for that flawed design.


RE: Sometimes I wish
By TomZ on 12/3/07, Rating: 0
RE: Sometimes I wish
By Alexstarfire on 12/3/07, Rating: -1
RE: Sometimes I wish
By Rampage on 12/3/2007 10:35:58 PM , Rating: 5
RE: Sometimes I wish
By LogicallyGenius on 12/3/07, Rating: -1
RE: Sometimes I wish
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 12/4/2007 10:17:12 AM , Rating: 2
You have a rating of 0.8 with only 108 posts. The system prevents you from voting if your rating sinks too low, it's to prevent abuse by bots/trolls/bad people. Make a few posts (they start at 2) that aren't flaming someone, and it will be up past 1.0 in no time and voting works again.


RE: Sometimes I wish
By jamdunc on 12/4/2007 2:28:37 PM , Rating: 2
So how do I vote? Lurked herfe for ages and finally started posting but still can't work out how to vote :p

How thick am I?


RE: Sometimes I wish
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 12/4/2007 2:39:42 PM , Rating: 2
Well, you can't vote right away (Prevents abuse by bots, etc...) you have to post a few times (Not sure what the threshold is, but its something in the range of 25-50). Once you've crossed this threshold you will see the option to mark something as "Worth reading" or "Not worth reading", Being a Up or Down vote respectively. Now if you post in a topic, you will be unable to vote in that same topic, and any votes you had previously will be removed.

You know, as much as these questions get asked, maybe we should write an FAQ :P


RE: Sometimes I wish
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 12/4/2007 2:41:39 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
You know, as much as these questions get asked, maybe we should write an FAQ :P

Sorry, mean't to say "add to the FAQ". We have one, but your question isn't covered.


RE: Sometimes I wish
By misuspita on 12/4/2007 3:19:24 PM , Rating: 3
Yep, I think it would be an excellent ideea. You just cleared the missing vote mistery here at DT. At least for me. Thanks!


RE: Sometimes I wish
By Ryanman on 12/9/07, Rating: 0
"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton














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