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Mozilla fixes 11 new flaws in Firefox, six critical

It also patches Firefox 2.0; just one more update coming for older browser

November 13, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Mozilla Corp. on Wednesday patched 11 vulnerabilities in Firefox 3.0 -- and 12 bugs in the older Firefox 2.0 -- that could be used to compromise computers and steal information.

Yesterday's update patched virtually the same number of vulnerabilities as the last security update seven weeks ago.

Firefox 3.0.4, the fourth update since Mozilla launched the browser in June, fixes six flaws rated "critical," two "high," two "moderate," and one "low" in Mozilla's four-step scoring system. Most of the critical bugs could be used by hackers to introduce their own malicious code into a vulnerable system.

Among the most serious were a trio of vulnerabilities in the browser's layout and JavaScript engines, while others included a buffer overflow bug in the HTTP index format parser and one -- pegged as moderate -- in the file: protocol handler. Mozilla repeatedly patched protocol handler bugs in Firefox starting in July 2007.

That vulnerability was judged moderate by Mozilla because of extenuating circumstances. "It requires an attacker to have malicious code saved locally, then have a user open a chrome: document or privileged about: URI, and then open the malicious file in the same privileged tab," Mozilla said in its advisory.

Mozilla also updated the nearly retired Firefox to 2.0.0.18, patching all but two of the same vulnerabilities fixed in 3.0.4 and several others for good measure. Of the dozen bugs, six were rated critical. The 2.0.0.18 update will be the next-to-the-last one for the older Firefox 2.0, which will be dropped from support next month.

Before that happens, Mozilla will make one last effort to convince Firefox 2.0 users to upgrade. In two to three weeks, users will again be prompted to upgrade in a repeat of an offer first extended in August. Mozilla has been very successful in convincing users to upgrade; as of the end of October, 73% of users were running the newer Firefox 3.0, reported Web metrics firm Net Applications.

Not updated on Wednesday was Thunderbird, which remains at Version 2.0.0.17. It's not unusual for the e-mail client to lag behind Firefox in patching vulnerabilities; as in the past, several of the issues in Firefox are also present in Thunderbird. Because the most dangerous of the six shared vulnerabilities are in various elements of the browser's JavaScript support, Thunderbird users can protect themselves in the interim by disabling JavaScript.

At times, the gap between Firefox and Thunderbird patches has been more than a month. This time, however, Thunderbird should be updated soon; Version 2.0.0.18 entered beta testing yesterday.

Users can download the update for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux from the Mozilla site, call up their browser's built-in updater or wait for the automatic update notification, which typically appears within 48 hours.

Read more about Security in Computerworld's Security Topic Center.



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