Microsoft Questions Firefox’s Security

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Microsoft seems to be having a hard time lately, with government bodies in both France and Germany now having advised their relative web-based populations against the use the company’s web browser, Internet Explorer.

The criticisms of Internet Explorer from both France and Germany seem to stem from the revelation that a vulnerability in Internet Explorer was used during last week’s Chinese attack on Google, revealed during security firm McAfee’s investigation of the attack. Initially, Microsoft had responded to the criticism by pointing out that the security issue is easily solved by users changing their security settings to “High,” which should see them protected from the exploit in question.

Now though, according to a report from TechRadar, it seems the company has stepped things up a notch, saying in a recent statement that Internet Explorer still represents the safest browser available. Indeed, Microsoft took the time to single out Firefox for some tough love, with its UK security chief, Cliff Evans saying,

“The net effect of switching is that you will end up with a less secure browser… The risk [from this] exploit is minimal compared to Firefox or other competing browsers… you will be opening yourself up to security issues.

It’s certainly a strange position to see Microsoft in, but it’s not the first time that the company has pointed out that other browsers are less secure than Internet Explorer 8. Indeed, the fact that Internet Explorer controls the lion’s share of the browser market alone means that it’s a bigger target for any attempted attacks than anything else, if only by virtue of its large user base.

Still, given the manner in which it normally responds, we doubt the folks at Mozilla will be quiet after this, since Microsoft essentially called Firefox insecure…

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5 Responses to “Microsoft Questions Firefox’s Security”

  1. nutterguy Says:

    Oh god how dare they….
    Firefox is currently the least secure of the mainstream browsers (unless you include safari’s 3% as mainstream…) bar IE6. This I am sure Microsoft would freely admit just as Mozilla have admitted that Netscape is no longer a secure browser.
    The fact is only Chrome and IE7/8 use separate processes for each window and use address space virtualisation, neither of which Firefox does.
    IE7/8 also use filesystem virtualisation which adds another layer of protection.
    Microsoft really is just stating the facts here…

    For more info read this…
    http://nsslabs.com/test-reports/Q309_Browser_Security_Summary_Final.pdf

    • komplettie Says:

      With every iteration of Internet Explorer it becomes a more solid browser, it’s sad that it still has the IE6 stigma attached to it. One of my favourite quotes from last year was when the head of explorer herself said, “Friends don’t let friends use IE6…” when she was asked about it in an interview last year. It’s genuinely lovely to see people so candid about their older stuff, especially considering the new IE is such a pleasure to use by comparison.

      I’m in awe that FF still doesn’t handle each tab as its own process. I’ve moved to Chrome myself just because of that fact; I don’t mind a browser crashing from time to time (and let’s face it, eventually any browser will encounter something it can’t chew through), but please don’t take six tabs with it 😦

      Edit: Meant to say, the FF guys tend to get all angsty when someone slights their browser though, I wonder what the response will be this time.

      • nutterguy Says:

        I have to use IE8 myself because Firefox hates flash on all of my systems, it struggles to play even standard youtube where as IE is quite happy playing HD youtube/BBC 😉

        I did try Chrome but despised it’s bookmark system and after several bad episodes with google software I would rather not have any on my computers.

        IE handles tab crashes instantly, bringing them straight back up and with “IE7 Pro” addon I get ad/flash blocking, spell check, download manager and session manager.

        I just wish the UI was as customizable as Firefox…

      • komplettie Says:

        That’s the saddest part of Chrome for me, I had a cute (and the guys in work really HATE me for using the word “cute” to describe it) Firefox custom UI and some lovely greasemonkey scripts set up. Now that Chrome has extensions I’m hoping to see some interesting stuff on that front.

        Strangely, I had issues with FF not playing YouTube under 3.5, but when I moved to 3.6 it sorted itself out. Chrome occasionally has issues with non-YouTube videos (Vimeo etc.) but it’s rare enough that I don’t really worry about it too much. No negative Google app experiences yet, but I do have a (possibly undeserved) suspicion of Google Docs.

        It’s mad to think that everyone probably has a similar pastiche of different apps and allegiences as we do…

  2. nutterguy Says:

    Also people using IE6 deserve malware…

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