Firefox less secure than Internet Explorer

Now, that headline grabbed your attention, didn’t it?  Regardless of the validity of that statement, Firefox did, in fact, have the most exposed vulnerabilities at this years Pwn2Own event, sponsored by HP.

Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome, Firefox and Adobe Flash were all compromised during the two day event, which saw HP dole out $850,000 in award money.  The monies were paid out for the exposure of the flaws. 

IE was exploited once on each day. Safari, a previous popular choice for exploitation, was only exploited by one team.  Chrome was also exploited, once. Both Safari and Chrome had their sandboxes bypassed, allowing code execution in the ‘real world.’

Firefox, on the other hand, was like a runny faucet, exploited three times on the first day and once on the second day.  Mozilla, however, is generally pretty quick in fixing the troubled browser, so I wouldn’t worry too much. If you use Firefox, be sure to update it when you get the notification.

In previous Pwn2Own events, Safari was generally the first to fall and the easiest. It seems to have fared a bit better this year.  Internet Explorer is generally a popular choice for teams to go after, but, it too, seems to be faring better in recent events. Both Google and Mozilla WANT their browsers to be exploited, so they can fix them and make them better. If this years event is any indication, Firefox should be bullet proof pretty soon.

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Windows and Internet Explorer, still the most popular?

NOTE: This is a post that originated on HalfByte’s sister blog on SquareSpace.

One of the nicer things about Squarespace is the stats that you get for your blog. I can see who or what referred traffic to the blog, what browser is being used, operating system and more.

Interestingly, from the stats, I have a wide variety of users hitting this blog: Windows, Linux, Mac and mobile. So, just how do the numbers break down?  Have a look…

Browsers  

IE7

24.14%

Gecko(Firefox)

22.90%

Chrome

11.07%

Unknown

9.47%

Opera9

9.23%

IE6

6.69%

Safari

6.15%

Opera7

3.43%

IE8

3.25%

IE

2.37%

IE9

1.01%

KHTML

0.30%

As you can see, IE7 is the most popular, followed by Firefox. Chrome is a distant third. Mobile browsers, likely, make up the ‘unknown’ followed, surprisingly, by Opera. Now, Opera is in a variety of devices, including the Wii and a host of feature phones and Android devices. That last one, KHTML, surprised me. Seriously, people actually use that. Huh. Collectively, however, Internet Explorer is, by far, the most popular browser. 

Next, operating systems…

Operating Systems  
Win7
34.44%
WinXP 27.75%
WinNT 10.47%
Unknown 9.47%
WinVista 5.68%
Win2000 4.26%
Android 3.43%
MacOSX 3.08%
iPhone 0.59%
Win2003 0.47%
Linux 0.30%
Win 0.06%

Several things stand out here. First, the high percentage of people still using Windows XP. The ‘Win’ is even more surprising as that represents the Windows 9x family (including ME.)  I think Windows 8 may fall in the ‘WinNT’ category, but I am not positive. At any rate, the high percentages of Windows prior to Vista is just odd. Who still uses them?  I am also a bit surprised by the low percentage of iPhone  and Android.  Though, I think the higher Android numbers reflect the overall type of reader for this blog: more techie types, though by that line of thought, I would think the Linux numbers would be higher. But, once again, the majority of readers are Windows users.

Now, it would really be easy-and the numbers would back it up-to conclude that the majority of readers use Internet Explorers and Windows. I suppose I could be like other sites and extrapolate that to mean that Windows is the most popular operating system used and Internet Explorer is the most used browser.  HOWEVER…I also know that my blog is one tiny, miniscule sliver of the Internet and that it is NOT a destination for, what I think, is the most prevalent type of computing consumer on the planet: the mobile user.  While Windows is still the king of desktop/laptop computing, it is not king of mobile computing.  For now, that’s Android with iOS in second.  I would expect, however, that Windows Phone will gain even more traction and Windows RT/8 to pick up some of the tablet space.

While it is nice to see that the material I write is pertinent to the majority of readers of the blog, I am also a bit disappointed that my readership is not more diverse.  But, it is a changing landscape and I, too, must change and accept that the world I am comfortable with is changing. Microsoft knows this and they are trying to adapt. And, so do I.