Mozilla yanks Firefox 16 one day after release
Critical vulnerability overlooked or introduced by previous patching; fix due Thursday
Computerworld - Mozilla yesterday took the unusual step of yanking Firefox 16 from distribution just a day after its release.
The company said a critical vulnerability triggered the move.
The bug was apparently overlooked by Mozilla while it was developing Firefox 16, or introduced by the fixes baked into the upgrade that started reaching users early Tuesday.
"Mozilla is aware of a security vulnerability in the current release version of Firefox (version 16). Firefox version 15 is unaffected," said Michael Coates, Mozilla's director of security assurance, in a Wednesday post to the company's security blog.
On Tuesday, Mozilla rolled out Firefox 16, which featured patches for 24 vulnerabilities, 21 of which were judged "critical," the open-source developer's highest threat ranking.
Coates' comment that Firefox 15 did not harbor the bug indicated that the vulnerability was either an entirely new, and overlooked, flaw that affected only Firefox 16, or that it was introduced by the patching process.
The vulnerability has been assigned #799952 in Mozilla's Bugzilla change- and bug-tracking database. As is Mozilla's practice for unpatched flaws, details on that bug are not viewable by the general public. That Bugzilla number did not match any of the 24 vulnerabilities patched Tuesday.
Coates did not note when Mozilla became aware of the new vulnerability, or how it was discovered. Notes from a Mozilla meeting yesterday, however, show the company was aware of it by 11 a.m. PT Wednesday, when it told developers that a "chemspill" -- Mozilla's term for an emergency update -- was necessary.
As a precaution, Mozilla has pulled Firefox 16 from its primary download site and stopped serving it to current users as an upgrade, even though there was no sign that the bug was being exploited.
Users who do not want to wait for the patch but are afraid of running their already-obtained copies of Firefox 16 can downgrade to its precursor, Coates said.
Firefox will be re-released as version 16.0.1 some time Thursday, after which Mozilla will re-open the upgrade gates.
Mozilla has had to quickly re-release Firefox before. In December 2011 it did just that with Firefox 9 a day after that browser's release.
However, this was the first time Mozilla has pulled a version of Firefox from distribution because of a vulnerability.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is email@example.com.
- Feds declare big win over Cryptolocker ransomware
- Hackers hit more businesses through remote access accounts
- P.F. Chang's post-breach move to manual processing is telling
- Microsoft withholds monster IE update from Windows 8.1 dawdlers
- In baffling move, TrueCrypt open-source crypto project shuts down
- 'Oleg Pliss' hack makes for a perfect teachable IT moment
- Give IE the heave-ho until Microsoft patches zero-day
- Hackers find first post-retirement Windows XP-related vulnerability
- Researcher claims two hacker gangs exploiting unpatched IE bug
- Update: Third of Internet Explorer users at risk from attacks
Read more about Security in Computerworld's Security Topic Center.
- EndPoint Interactive eGuide In this eGuide, Network World, Computerworld, and CIO examine two endpoint trends - BYOD and collaboration - and offer tips and advice on...
- Mobile First: Securing Information Sprawl Learn how the partnership between Box and MobileIron can help you execute a "mobile first" strategy that manages and secures both mobile apps...
- Cybersecurity Imperatives: Reinvent your Network Security The Rise of CyberSecurity
- Surescripts Case Study- Securing Keys and Certificates Surescripts implemented Venafi's Trust Protection Platform™ to secure digital keys and certificates, ensure the privacy and confidentiality of electronic clinical information for its...
- Responding to New SSL Cybersecurity Threat The featured Gartner research examines current strategies to address new SSL cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities.
- Deep Dive into Advanced Networking and Security with Hybrid Cloud Security and networking are among the top concerns when moving workloads to the cloud. VMware vCloud® Hybrid Service™ enables you to extend your... All Security White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!