Feeds

Web browsers face crisis of security confidence

Good enough for Donald Rumsfeld. But not for you

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Whatever its faults, Firefox wasn't the browser that brought us ActiveX and therein lies the key reason it has stood up so well when compared to IE over the years. Last year, there were some 339 vulnerabilities in one or more ActiveX controls, according to security bug tracker Secunia. That compares with about 35 flaws in QuickTime, 12 in Java, 12 in Flash and 6 in various Firefox extensions. What's more, ActiveX bugs tend to bite harder because Microsoft designed ActiveX to have much greater control of the underlying operating system than Java and most other browsing components. As a result, ActiveX for years became a cornerstone of the underground malware industry.

"Too many ActiveX controls are of poor quality and haven't been through a quality assurance process and security audit before they're published," Thomas Kristensen, Secunia's CTO says. "A lot of them are inherently insecure and of very poor quality, which makes it easy for the bad guys to find vulnerabilities."

Microsoft choked off much of the most pernicious ActiveX threats four years ago with the release of Service Pack 2 for Windows XP, which made it much harder for miscreants to use the controls to silently install malicious code on end users' machines. And changes in IE 8 previewed here (click "Peace of Mind," then "Browser-Based Exploits") promise users "greater control over who can install Microsoft ActiveX controls and on which sites the ActiveX controls are allowed to run." (The site promises a host of other improvements, including data execution prevention that is turned on by default and features known as Cross Domain Request and Cross Document Messaging to ward off attacks on web servers.)

Cookie mishmash

In addition to largely taming the ActiveX shrew, Microsoft over the last few years has adopted a tireless security posture that places a high premium on communication and patching vulnerabilities within a reasonable amount of time, and that's gone a long way to making people safer.

"IE 7 is a very secure browser," Jim Hahn, a member of the IE team says. "A machine that is fully up-to-date is very secure, and we feel very confident about that."

Last page: As the net burns, browser makers fiddle

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE
Pull it out ASAP, it is SWISS CHEESE
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, watchdog claims
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.