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Browser security was Re: MDKSA-2004:021 - Updated mozilla packages fix multiple vulnerabilities
From: Gary Flynn <flynngn () jmu edu>
Date: Wed, 10 Mar 2004 15:50:13 -0500

Florian Weimer wrote:

Mandrake Linux Security Team wrote:

A number of vulnerabilities were discovered in Mozilla 1.4:

Wow.  A GNU/Linux distributor who finally releases a security update for
Mozilla.  Isn't this a first?

There is a list of published issues at:

I'm glad you said "published" instead of "known". :)


Now compare this to what some distributions are shipping (most of them
are at 1.4, AFAIK).

Apparently, browser (and mail client) security isn't something at which
you can beat the market leader easily, despite its sorry performance in
this regard.  8-/


Looking at the workarounds on the "known vulnerability" page, it
appears the old saw about "disable javascript, java, etc." should
apply to all browsers visiting untrusted sites.

What I'd like to see personally is a right-click "temporarily
disable/enable risky functionality for this site" option so this
functionality can be turned on and off easily for those users
willing to put up with the discomfort of day to day web "browsing"
without scripts but not willing to put up with having to go
through three or more configuration screens for a temporary site
visit. Yeah, I know, make it too easy and you get the email attachment
syndrome but I think the feature would overall encourage more people
to try browing in a safer default configuration than today's
mechanism. You fight human nature and you lose. It could always be
disabled by a master switch in an organizational policy. Shoot,
even security vendors make use of script on their web pages
and I think most of us would have to admit having to go to a site
requiring script and forgetting to turn it back off at least
once. :)

Gary Flynn
Security Engineer - Technical Services
James Madison University

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