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Making open-source browsing safe for the masses

A short conversation with Mozilla's 'chief security something or other'

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In a nutshell what are the big advances or changes in 3.0?

Anti-malware is new for 3.0. We're hoping that is going to help people make better choices about protecting themselves, visiting sites that have malware. It's basing its decisions on sites that have been identified to contain malware. This site has been identified as a potential phishing site; this site has been identified as one that has malware on it. And that of course is updated regularly.

Q:I'm interested in the perspective you have as somebody who oversees security for a product that's truly cross-platform and runs on Linux, OS X and Windows. Do you see one platform as significantly more secure or significantly less secure than another?

No. As an administrator, my response is the platform that is most secure is the platform that you know best how to secure. So being intimately familiar with the details of the operating system enables an administrator to better secure a system.

As far as a user is concerned, you're getting into the area of how easy is it to understand the security configurations, how easy is it for the general user to understand firewall settings and even complex things like managing certificates. So it comes down to usability even more than security.

And then beyond that at the platform level it comes down to most importantly security updates because there are vulnerabilities everywhere. So the most important metric I think in understanding how secure you're actually going to be is looking at how long it takes the vendor to ship a patch.

For instance this most recent patch doesn't apply to users using Linux or OS X but only if they're using Windows. This whole issue of the receiving application and the entry application, that issue doesn't exist on OS X or Linux.

At the highest level the security issue doesn't necessarily .... But at the highest level it does actually happen on all platforms in that a content might say that other content needs to be handled by a different application, or the browser handles this set of content and calls out to these other applications. So theoretically, that could happen, but each operating system handles looking for that other application differently and handles passing that information to the next application differently. ®

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