Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Security Bugs Undercut Mozilla

New flaws leave experts wondering if Mozilla's such a great alternative to Microsoft Internet Explorer and Exchange

Mozilla put patches on a wide range of security vulnerabilities last week, but experts say the black eye won't help the open-source group in its effort to displace Microsoft's browsers and email clients in enterprise environments.

A report issued on Friday listed no fewer than 33 vulnerabilities in the Mozilla suite of software, which includes the popular Firefox browser as well as the Thunderbird open-source email client. The vulnerabilities were patched in a new release of the Mozilla suite released early last week, but security experts said the new spate of flaws will be hard for enterprises to overlook.

"Some of these vulnerabilities are deadly," says Sheeraj Shah, director and co-founder of security consultancy Net Square Solutions, and author of the book, Web Hacking: Attacks and Defense. "They empower the attacker to load scripts remotely while browsing. One could create different scenarios in which these vulnerabilities could be exploited and lead to information disclosure or remote command or script execution."

Over the past two years, Mozilla has gained market traction as a free, open-source alternative to Microsoft's Internet Explorer, which has been rife with security bugs, and its Exchange email client. But between the publication of Mozilla's vulnerabilities and the second beta release of Microsoft's Firefox-like IE7 last week, the open-source software's momentum may be on the wane.

In some ways, Mozilla's software is a victim of its own success, according to Michal Zalewski, a well-known white-hat hacker and author of the book, Silence on the Wire: A Field Guide to Passive Reconnaissances and Indirect Attacks. "The recent increase in market share of Firefox has already resulted in extra scrutiny, and revealed many flaws that seem strangely reminiscent of what was discovered earlier in IE and other commercial software," he observes.

But Zalewski feels that there still are good reasons why Mozilla users don't need to be as worried as IE users. For one thing, he says, Mozilla's open-source development community is quicker to respond to security problems than Microsoft seems to be, leaving a narrower window for attackers to exploit vulnerabilities.

Mozilla still makes up only a small portion of the total browser market, its users tend to be more tech-savvy than IE users, and they do their updates more punctually, Zaleski notes. These factors continue to make the open-source environment a less attractive target for attackers, he says.

But no matter which browser your enterprise uses, the risk of vulnerabilities and subsequent attacks remains high, warns Shah. "Aside from doing your browser updates, enterprises should consider content filtering at the HTTP/HTTPS proxy, which can help them identify browser-based attacks and mitigate them at the gates -- before they hit the end user," he says.

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

Organizations mentioned in this article:

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)
  • Mozilla
  • Net-Square Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

    Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

    Comment  | 
    Print  | 
    More Insights
  • Comments
    Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
    Inside the Ransomware Campaigns Targeting Exchange Servers
    Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  4/2/2021
    Beyond MITRE ATT&CK: The Case for a New Cyber Kill Chain
    Rik Turner, Principal Analyst, Infrastructure Solutions, Omdia,  3/30/2021
    Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
    White Papers
    Current Issue
    2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
    We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
    Flash Poll
    How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
    How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
    Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
    Twitter Feed
    Dark Reading - Bug Report
    Bug Report
    Enterprise Vulnerabilities
    From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
    PUBLISHED: 2021-04-13
    Eaton Intelligent Power Manager (IPM) prior to 1.69 is vulnerable to unauthenticated remote code execution vulnerability. IPM software does not sanitize the date provided via coverterCheckList action in meta_driver_srv.js class. Attackers can send a specially crafted packet to make IPM connect to ro...
    PUBLISHED: 2021-04-13
    SAP NetWeaver AS JAVA (Customer Usage Provisioning Servlet), versions - 7.31, 7.40, 7.50, allows an attacker to read some statistical data like product version, traffic, timestamp etc. because of missing authorization check in the servlet.
    PUBLISHED: 2021-04-13
    SAP Manufacturing Execution (System Rules), versions - 15.1, 15.2, 15.3, 15.4, allows an authorized attacker to embed malicious code into HTTP parameter and send it to the server because SAP Manufacturing Execution (System Rules) tab does not sufficiently encode some parameters, resulting in Stored ...
    PUBLISHED: 2021-04-13
    SAP NetWeaver AS Java (Applications based on HTMLB for Java) allows a basic-level authorized attacker to store a malicious file on the server. When a victim tries to open this file, it results in a Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) vulnerability and the attacker can read and modify data. However, the attac...
    PUBLISHED: 2021-04-13
    SAP Commerce, versions - 1808, 1811, 1905, 2005, 2011, Backoffice application allows certain authorized users to create source rules which are translated to drools rule when published to certain modules within the application. An attacker with this authorization can inject malicious code in the sour...