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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 Fritzr on 12/4/2007 11:33:06 PM , Rating: 2
One stop is here now. If all websites stuck to the published standard then all compliant browsers would work equally well.

The reality is that IE7 is very "forgiving" when it comes to errors in coding & tries to guess what was really intended. FF, Opera, Safari and the other browsers that work well in the real world are doing the same thing. The lst of bugs that IE ignores or corrects is confidential ... Many designers test using IE. Result is that browsers that do not handle coding errors in the same manner will be seen as "bad" when the reality is that it is the website that has a problem.

IE will have problems with pages that were tested with FF, Opera, Safari or another browser that does not make exactly the same corrections as IE does.

Get the browsers to stop silently correcting bad & lazy code and you'll see a lot more cross browser compatible code.

Had one case where Opera did a data base dump due to coding errors that IE quietly corrected displaying only the selected record(s). Since the coders never bothered to test with any other browser and they had enough errors in their code that I'm surprised any browser could understand it, they released it to their customer and were SHOCKED when it was reported that confidential info was exposed. It seems that the people who paid to have the code written were also supposed to ensure that none of the people logging into the site used anything but IE ... The application was meant to be used by the general public.

Idiocy is promoted by the silent correction by proprietary algorithms that are trade secrets. Then the end users wonder why their brand X browser, that otherwise perfectly suits their needs, can't handle the websites that are actually out there.

"We’re Apple. We don’t wear suits. We don’t even own suits." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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