Mozilla confirms critical Firefox bug

Slates patch for March 30; flaw can't be used in upcoming Pwn2Own hack contest

Mozilla yesterday confirmed a critical vulnerability in the newest version of Firefox, and said it would plug the hole by the end of the month.

Although the patch won't be added to Firefox before next week's Pwn2Own browser hacking challenge, researchers won't be allowed to use the flaw, according to the contest's organizer.

"The vulnerability was determined to be critical and could result in remote code execution by an attacker," Mozilla acknowledged in a post to its security blog late Thursday. "The vulnerability has been patched by developers and we are currently undergoing quality assurance testing for the fix."

Firefox 3.6, which Mozilla launched in January, is affected, Mozilla said, adding that it would be patched in version 3.6.2, currently slated to ship on March 30.

The bug was disclosed by Russian researcher Evgeny Legerov a month ago in a message posted on a forum hosted by Immunity, the Miami Beach, Fla. developer best known for its Canvas penetration testing framework. Legerov works for Moscow-based Intevydis, which produces the VulnDisco add-on for Canvas.

Legerov did not publish attack code, and initially refused to provide details to Mozilla, according to a March 4 entry he posted on his blog. "I've ignored e-mails ... from Mozilla, please do not waste my and your time anymore," Legerov wrote. The blog has since been deleted, but is still available via Google's cache .

In comments appended to a vulnerability alert published by Danish bug tracker Secunia, several users questioned Legerov's motives for making the announcement, while others chided Secunia for not thoroughly testing the flaw or claimed that it was all a hoax.

Mozilla yesterday said Legerov had eventually sent them "sufficient details to reproduce and analyze the issue."

Until the March 30 patch is released, users can upgrade Firefox to the beta of version 3.6.2, which includes the fix, by downloading the preview .

Although Apple and Google have recently updated Safari and Chrome , respectively -- beefing up the browsers' security before the $100,000 Pwn2Own hacking contest starts March 24 -- the version of Firefox that will be used in the challenge will lack the patch for Legerov's vulnerability. Pwn2Own will pit only production versions of Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer (IE) and Safari against the hacking talents of researchers.

However, that doesn't mean hackers will be able to use the bug to claim one of the $10,000 prizes for successfully exploiting Firefox. "We will have our entire research team on-site so that we can do our best to ensure that known issues such as this one do not turn up at our contest," said Aaron Portnoy, a research team lead with 3Com TippingPoint, the company sponsoring Pwn2Own.

Portnoy, who organized the fourth annual contest, has predicted that Microsoft 's IE8 will be the first browser to fall during the three-day event.

Mozilla will also patch Firefox 3.0 (with 3.0.19) and Firefox 3.5 (with 3.5.9) on March 30. Firefox 3.0.19 will be the final security update for the browser Mozilla debuted in mid-2008.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@ix.netcom.com .

metatag data

Read more about security in Computerworld's Security Knowledge Center.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags exploits and vulnerabilitiesFirefoxsecuritybrowserspwn2own

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?