In Symantec's latest Internet Security Threat Report, the security firm noted that Mozilla's Firefox browser has nearly double the amount of vulnerabilities found in Microsoft's Internet Explorer. But Symantec also noted that the flaws found in Internet Explorer are more severe.
The report, which brings together statistics from January through June 2005, examines Internet security threats in several key areas.
According to the report, Mozilla's browsers had 25 confirmed vulnerabilities in the first half of the year, while Internet Explorer had 13 vulnerabilities.
Matter of Perspective
Although Mozilla's vulnerability numbers are higher, Symantec did point out that Internet Explorer's flaws might pose a greater risk to users, most notably because Internet Explorer is used by far more people than use Mozilla's browsers.
Another factor in favor of Mozilla, Symantec found, is its speed in doing patching, although that speed can sometimes be double-edged.
"If you're quick to get patches out, sometimes later you have to issue a patch for the patch," said Secunia chief technology officer Thomas Kristensen. "But, in general, that's not so bad. It's good that Mozilla responds quickly."
Microsoft, however, has been criticized in the past for being sluggish in its response to security vulnerabilities. But Kristensen noted that some vulnerabilities require more time for fixes. "Not every vulnerability should be treated the same way because some are more severe, and those should be handled first," he said.
Symantec's report also commented on general security trends. The company emphasized that Internet attacks are being sparked by financial motivation rather than by the desire to be technologically infamous.
Because attackers are seeking profit rather than notoriety, it is likely that the type of attacks seen in the past year, such as targeting individuals and companies with identity-theft tactics, will continue to be an issue in the future.
In particular, Symantec noted, the number of worm variants tied to phishing activities has increased dramatically.