More on Microsoft's IE (in)security miscount

Microsoft's security report is worse than originally reported.

Sigh. I tried to give Microsoft the benefit of a doubt with its report on Internet Explorer vs. Firefox security report. But as Firefox's security expert notes, Microsoft's miscount doesn't even start from the right baseline (and is then compounded by Microsoft quoting its own misinformation):

One of the goals of the bug counting report is to demonstrate that Microsoft fixed fewer bugs for IE than Mozilla did for Firefox. Unfortunately for Microsoft (and for anyone trying to use this report as analysis of useful metrics) [Microsoft's Jeff Jones] does not count all the security issues. If he were able to count them all, Microsoft could get credit for all the bugs they fixed. He counts only the public issues, because that is all Microsoft will tell us about. Microsoft is worried that if it ever says it has fixed X security issues, the world will focus on that it had X vulnerabilities in the first place, not that they are now fixed and no longer a risk for users. So the set of issues that are available for public comparison is limited to the set of vulnerabilities that are reported externally AND fixed in security updates.

This is a small subset of all the vulnerabilities, because the vulnerabilities that are found through the QA process and the vulnerabilities that are found by the security folks they engage as contractors to perform penetration testing are fixed in service packs and major updates. For Microsoft this makes sense because these fixes get the benefit of a full test pass which is much more robust for a service pack or major release than it is for a security update.

Unfortunately for Microsoft?s users this means they have to wait sometimes a year or more to get the benefit of this work.

Which isn't all that bad...if you don't mind waiting a year. I don't mind well-intentioned competition or misguided mistakes. I make them all the time. But anyone at a company as well-capitalized as Microsoft that can afford to get it right, should get it right.

Sheesh. Time to get Microsoft some veritaserum.


Via Slashdot.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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