Mozilla fixes 10 Firefox flaws, half seen as 'critical'

But Thunderbird patches are delayed for 'several weeks'

Mozilla Tuesday patched 10 vulnerabilities, half of them marked "critical," in its open-source browser as it updated Firefox to version 2.0.0.13. The new Mozilla Messaging spin-off, however, was not able to provide a matching update to its Thunderbird e-mail client, which shares five of the Firefox flaws that were fixed.

Mozilla's six advisories spelled out five Firefox bugs marked "critical," three tagged "high" and one each "moderate" and "low."

"There's a little bit here to interest most everyone," said Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Network Security. "The bulletins claim no favor in the many types of vulnerabilities typically associated with browsers."

Among the critical flaws were a pair that could be exploited to crash the browser or its JavaScript engine, and perhaps do more. "Some of these crashes showed evidence of memory corruption under certain circumstances and we presume that with enough effort at least some of these could be exploited to run arbitrary code," Mozilla wrote in the advisory pegged as 2008-15.

Mozilla also patched potential identity leaks, spoofing bugs and cross-site scripting vulnerabilities in 2.0.0.13. But the fix that caught Storms' eye was detailed by 2008-18, a fix for LiveConnect, a feature that harks back to Firefox's predecessor, Netscape Navigator. LiveConnect lets Java applets call a Web page's embedded JavaScript, or JavaScript access the Java runtime libraries, and is used by both Firefox and Apple's Safari 3 browser.

"Sun has updated the Java Runtime Environment with a fix for this problem. Mozilla has also added a fix to LiveConnect to protect users who don't have the latest version of Java," Mozilla said in the advisory.

"Here we have Firefox putting out a mitigation step for a bug in Java," said Storms. "It's a welcomed addition when one vendor can help out another."

All 10 vulnerabilities were also patched by the SeaMonkey project, a separate open-source initiative that develops a multi-function browser suite.

The Thunderbird e-mail client, meanwhile, is affected by the five critical flaws listed in 2008-14 and 2008-15. "Thunderbird shares the browser engine with Firefox and could be vulnerable if JavaScript were to be enabled in mail," read the first of the two bulletins. "This is not the default setting and we strongly discourage users from running JavaScript in mail."

A release date for Thunderbird 2.0.0.13 to fix the flaws has not been set. According to David Ascher, the head of Mozilla Messaging, the e-mailer's update will follow Firefox's by "several weeks."

In a post to his blog last week, Ascher cited several reasons why a simultaneous release of Thunderbird and Firefox updates was impossible. "Some of those resource contentions are due to not enough automation for the Thunderbird release process, and some of it is the consequence of not enough people with the right training," he said.

Ascher defended the lag by noting that while JavaScript is turned on by default in Firefox, it is not in Thunderbird. "We could delay releasing Firefox until Thunderbird was ready, in the interest of mitigating the risk of someone using knowledge from the Firefox release to try and attack Thunderbird users," said Ascher. "But that would mean leaving over 150 million users vulnerable. So, applying the correct math, we release Firefox security updates as soon as possible, and Thunderbird security updates as soon as possible."

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?