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How secure is Firefox?


Hold up! Before you read on, please read this...

This post was published more than 12 years ago

I keep old posts on the site because I often enjoy reading old content on other people's sites. Not everything that is old is bad. It can be interesting to see how views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have mellowed and matured.

But given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views might very well have changed in the 12 years since I wrote this post. I have written some very silly things over the years, many of which I find pretty embarrassing today.
  • This post might use language in ways which I would now consider highly inappropriate or offensive.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken; embedded material might not appear properly.

Okay. Consider yourself duly warned. Read on...

Jack Schofield, the Guardian’s resident geek, writing on the newly renamed Technology Blog, has pointed out this article by George Ou, of ZDNet:

Firefox not only has more vulnerabilities per month than Internet Explorer, but it is now surpassing Internet Explorer for the number of exploits available for public download in recent months…

As you can see, the facade that Firefox is the cure to the Internet Explorer security blues is quickly fading. It just goes to prove that any popular software worth hacking that has security vulnerabilities will eventually have to deal with live working exploits. Firefox mostly managed to stay under the radar from hackers before April of 2005. Since that time, new exploits are being released almost on a monthly basis

I have to say that my perception has always been that Firefox is more secure than Internet Explorer, but this does appear to be quite a strong challenge to that perception. At the same time, it’s questionable whether some of the Firefox holes are as serious as IE’s gaping chasms, but perhaps my perception of Firefox’s security is somewhat overblown. As Jack, one of Firefox’s biggest media fana, says:

I have to admit to some disappointment. I wasn’t naive enough to think Firefox would cure all IE’s security ailments, and I’m not stupid enough to think open source software has no security problems, but even taking George’s numbers with a kilo of salt, I expected better.

With this on top of the other potential disadvantages of Firefox George points out, it is beginning to look like a less attractive proposal. It certainly tightens the gap between them, and makes me wonder about just how superior Firefox is. I’ve always considered Firefox to be very much superior to IE, yet I’ve tended to use IE most of the time due to some of the sites I use being incompatable with Firefox. I will, no doubt, continue to use Internet Explorer, but perhaps I’ll stop feeling quite so inferior for a while…

This 731st post was filed under: Technology.

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