Firefox dusted down with security upgrade

Makeover

Mozilla yesterday released an updated version of its popular Firefox browser, version 1.0.1. The release includes several fixes to guard against spoofing and arbitrary code execution and changes designed to boost the stability of the browser.

The update addresses a recent security flaw involving download dialogue boxes and a code injection vulnerability as well as a number of other bugs listed here. The Mozilla Foundation has also changed the way its browser renders international characters in domain names in order to guard against possible phishing risks.

An unintended result of the IDN (International Domain Name) standard means domain names can be registered with certain international characters - which look like other commonly-used characters - in order to hoodwink users into believing they are on a different, trusted site. As such, the feature creates a new wheeze for phishing attacks. Microsoft doesn't support IDN in IE but every other browser manufacturer does, obliging them to act after security firms highlighted the issue last month.

Rather than disabling IDN, the Mozilla Foundation has settled on a temporary workaround where International Domain Names are displayed by Firefox 1.0.1 as "punycode" by default so that spoofed websites are easier to spot. Mozilla does not see this as a permanent fix, and it’s unlikely to placate some critics who are urging browser manufacturers to stick by IDN.

Although the latest Firefox release is essentially a minor update users moving up to 1.0.1 are advised to uninstall 1.0 first, an installation snag that has been around since the early days of Firefox. Firefox 1.0 has been downloaded 27m times since its December 2004 release. The Mozilla Foundation encourages all users to download the update, which is available now on all platforms at Mozilla.org. ®

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