Firefox Paws At IE - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
News
Commentary
12/14/2004
04:10 PM
Commentary
Commentary
Commentary
50%
50%

Firefox Paws At IE

Firefox should be a no-brainer for widespread corporate deployment, but so far, that's not the case.

The Firefox open-source Web browser is a certified hit among Internet users, with nearly eight million downloads as of press time. With benefits including tighter security, improved browsing, and the David vs. Goliath pleasure that comes from snubbing Microsoft and its Internet Explorer (IE) browser, Firefox should be a no-brainer for widespread corporate deployment as well. But so far, that's not the case.

One reason is that switching is harder for a corporation than for individuals. "For a large enterprise, it would be a major project to replace a desktop component," says Pete Lindstrom, research director at Spire Security. "They have to make sure there aren't incompatibilities with Web sites or applications designed for IE that are important to the business. It could easily take two years."

Having just had its 1.0 release in early November, Firefox may also be too new to stir significant enterprise interest. "Corporate customers are late adopters," says Anne Camden, a spokesperson for PC manufacturer Dell. "They may be downloading it and testing it internally, but they haven't come to us to say they want it on a Dell system," she says.

In addition, the Web browser isn't typically regarded as a business enabler like other tools, such as e-mail. Executives aren't going to authorize a change just because Firefox provides snappier browsing for workplace distractions such as news sites, pornography, and online shopping.

That said, Firefox is making organizational inroads, particularly among universities and small or tech-savvy businesses. According to the Mozilla Foundation, which oversees Firefox development, Boston University, Yale, and MIT have all deployed Firefox. So have small and medium-sized companies across a wide range of industries, including health care, financial services, and manufacturing.

Chris Hofmann, director of engineering at the foundation, says security is the primary reason Firefox gets its foot in the enterprise door. The problem with IE is that its vulnerabilities are often subject to exploit. In 2004, for example, two high-profile exploits, Download.Ject and an IFRAME exploit, let attackers install keystroke loggers and malware onto machines running IE 6.0.

In that year alone, security research firm Secunia issued 30 advisories concerning IE 6.0 vulnerabilities. Of those advisories, 43 percent were rated as "extremely" or "highly" critical.

Of course, no one claims that Firefox is invulnerable to attack. Researchers have uncovered exploitable vulnerabilities in the browser, as well as in a Java plug-in from Sun Micro-systems that Firefox often uses.

Paradoxically, Firefox's success over time may erase whatever security benefits it offers today. "If Firefox becomes extremely popular, you can be sure people will work to identify vulnerabilities in it," says Lindstrom.


"Microsoft may be the evil empire, but that shouldn't be the decision point for what's best for your IT environment."

Pete Lindstrom, research director, Spire Security

30,000 Number of Windows PCs hijacked by IE Trojans each day in 2004. That's an increase from 2,000 per day the previous year.

Source: EarthLink

1 Number of users infected by WinCE4.Duts, the only mobile device virus ever found in the wild. The virus has no destructive payload and includes an installation routine that asks users if they want to be infected.

Source: Symantec

693 Number of online news stories that warned people about the dangers of viruses on mobile devices the week that WinCE4.Duts first debuted.

Source: Google News

99.4% Proportion of viruses that never infect more than one computer. Of the 55,000 viruses known to the anti-virus industry, only 341 have been found in the wild.

Source: WildList.org

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
State of the Cloud
State of the Cloud
Cloud has drastically changed how IT organizations consume and deploy services in the digital age. This research report will delve into public, private and hybrid cloud adoption trends, with a special focus on infrastructure as a service and its role in the enterprise. Find out the challenges organizations are experiencing, and the technologies and strategies they are using to manage and mitigate those challenges today.
News
COVID-19: Using Data to Map Infections, Hospital Beds, and More
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  3/25/2020
Commentary
Enterprise Guide to Robotic Process Automation
Cathleen Gagne, Managing Editor, InformationWeek,  3/23/2020
Slideshows
How Startup Innovation Can Help Enterprises Face COVID-19
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  3/24/2020
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
IT Careers: Tech Drives Constant Change
Advances in information technology and management concepts mean that IT professionals must update their skill sets, even their career goals on an almost yearly basis. In this IT Trend Report, experts share advice on how IT pros can keep up with this every-changing job market. Read it today!
White Papers
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll