PHISHING FLAW IN ALTERNATIVE BROWSERS

I like Macs. I think they’re fine computers that do some things pretty well. Personally, the much-vaunted Apple design choices leave me cold, so it’s hard for me to understand why people would pay a premium for an Apple computer, but I’m happy to respect those who feel differently.

I like Firefox. I haven’t had time to try it myself – I’m not all that interested, frankly – but all reports are that it’s a perfectly nice Internet browser based on reasonably solid technology.

What I don’t like is evangelists trying to boost their favorites with distortions and untruths. Here’s a handful of things you might not know from the media or the evangelists.

Macs crash.

Apple releases regular security updates for security flaws. Here’s an article about the seven security flaws fixed by the regular monthly update in January. Apple releases patches for security flaws for its operating system at least monthly, and occasionally more often, just like Microsoft. Here’s an article about the security update three weeks ago fixing a “highly critical” flaw in iTunes.

The Firefox team just announced a three-month delay in releasing version 1.1, which will fix bugs and add features and tighten security.

One reason Firefox isn’t vulnerable to some kinds of adware and spyware is because it doesn’t have support for ActiveX technology pioneered by Microsoft. As a result many legitimate web sites offering useful services don’t work in Firefox.

There’s news today of a serious phishing vulnerability that affects Firefox, Mozilla, Opera, and Apple Computer’s Safari. Internet Explorer is not vulnerable to this attack. The exploit allows bad guys to lead you to a spoofed web site that appears to be legitimate, with a legitimate URL, in yet another attempt to persuade you to divulge financial or personal information. The teams responsible for those alternative browsers will issue patches and fixes in good time.

You may decide that alternative browsers are attacked less often or that they offer features you want to use. You may decide that Macs are easier to use or that they look cool. You may decide that Linux is just plain fun to play with, regardless of whether it actually does anything useful.

Just don’t buy into the hype that any of them are invulnerable or that our choices are obvious. It just isn’t so.