Report: Firefox buggier, but issued fixes quicker

Mozilla reported more browser flaws last year than the other three popular browsers combined, but Mozilla dealt with those flaws quicker than Microsoft, according to a new report.

Mozilla reported more vulnerabilities in its Firefox Web browser last year than Internet Explorer, Safari, and Opera combined, but Mozilla dealt with those flaws quicker than Microsoft, according to a new a report by vulnerability-testing company Secunia.

Firefox had 115 reported flaws in 2008, nearly four times as many as every other popular browser, and nearly twice as many as Microsoft and Apple combined, according to browser vulnerability research (PDF) released this week. In comparison, Microsoft reported 31 flaws in IE, Apple reported 32 in Safari, and Opera reported 30.

However, the report found that Mozilla was quicker to patch Firefox's flaws that were disclosed publicly without vendor notification compared with Microsoft. These "zero day" vulnerability disclosures contain information that can be used by attackers to write exploits for the flaw. The longer it takes vendors to release an update that repairs the vulnerability, the longer users of the browser are at risk.

Secunia reports that Microsoft took longer to fix two more serious flaws than Mozilla did with two less serious flaws. Secunia

Secunia reported six incidences in which Microsoft was publicly notified of browser vulnerabilities, two of which the security company labeled as "high" or "moderate" in severity. Meanwhile, Mozilla experienced three such occurrences, all of which Secunia labeled as "less critical" or "not critical."

Microsoft took 110 days to issue patches for the two most serious flaws, while it took Mozilla an average of 43 days to address its three flaws, Secunia reported. One of the IE vulnerabilities remained open for 294 days in 2008, according to the report.

The revelation comes as Mozilla released an update Wednesday to Firefox, its second in about a month. Mozilla developers said the update fixes six critical vulnerabilities found in Firefox 3.0.6, the most serious of which could allow attackers to run arbitrary code on a victim's computer.

Firefox continues to chip away at Internet Explorer's market dominance. Mozilla now has 21.77 percent of the global browser market share, compared with IE's 67.44 percent, a drop of more than 7 percentage points in a year, according to figures from Web metrics company Net Applications.

 

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