Feeds

Mozilla flaws more joke than jeopardy

Firefox attack a 'stand up comedy routine'

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Two presenters razzed developers of the open source Mozilla browser this weekend at the ToorCon hacking convention in San Diego with claims that the browser's Javascript implementation is flawed, but the lecture appears to have been more stand-up comedy routine than substantiative research.

The two researchers - college student and Six Apart developer Mischa Spiegelmock and hacker Andrew "Wbeelsoi" who also uses the handle "Weev" - appeared to demonstrate a remotely exploitable flaw in the Javascript implementation of the Mozilla Firefox browser during their Saturday presentation.

However, the duo have not been able to actually get the vulnerability to result in control of a computer, Spiegelmock said in a statement posted to the Mozilla developer blog.

The presentation was intended mainly as a joke, Spiegelmock said in the statement, in which he apologised.

"The main purpose of our talk was to be humourous," the 19-year-old researcher said in the statement. "As part of our talk we mentioned that there was a previously known Firefox vulnerability that could result in a stack overflow ending up in remote code execution. However, the code we presented did not in fact do this, and I personally have not gotten it to result in code execution, nor do I know of anyone who has."

The presentation had gained some credence because an increasingly number of flaws have been found in the Javascript implementations of several browsers, including Firefox, with researchers warning that flaws in the technology could allow web worms the ability to gather information about a victim's network and to gain some access to a user's computer.

The humourous attack on Mozilla also came as software giant Microsoft scrambled to deal with its own zero-day attacks on its Internet Explorer browser and Windows operating system.

Spiegelmock's and Wbeelsoi's claims were widely mirrored by numerous blogs and news aggregators after a News.com article covered the presentation. The duo called Mozilla's implementation of Javascript a "complete mess" and "impossible to patch", according to the article. The hackers reportedly claimed to have 30 more Firefox vulnerabilities that he intended to keep to themselves to set up "communication networks for black hats".

Spiegelmock and his employer, blog developer and service provider Six Apart, backed off those statements on Monday.

"I do not have 30 undisclosed Firefox vulnerabilities, nor did I ever make this claim," Spiegelmock said in the statement posted to Mozilla's blog late Monday night. "I have no undisclosed Firefox vulnerabilities. The person who was speaking with me made this claim, and I honestly have no idea if he has them or not."

According to a source familiar with the matter, Spiegelmock does not have any other information about vulnerabilities outside of the denial-of-service vulnerability included in the presentation. Moreover, the college student has disclosed all details about the flaws to the Mozilla Foundation. Neither Spiegelmock nor Wbeelsoi responded to emailed interview requests.

Six Apart downplayed the style of the presentation as a prank.

"Mischa is a young man - he meant the presentation in jest," said Jane Anderson, spokeswoman for Six Apart.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Regin: The super-spyware the security industry has been silent about
NSA fingered as likely source of complex malware family
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?