Mozilla to skip CSRF bug patch in next Firefox update

Fixes crash problem, but postpones patch for cross-site request forgery bug that involves Adobe

Mozilla today said that it will ship security updates to Firefox 3.5 and Firefox 3.6 next Tuesday, ending a debate about whether to wait for a patch that affects Adobe's software.

Firefox 3.5.17 and Firefox 3.6.14 will now appear Tuesday, March 1, Mozilla disclosed in meeting notes published today.

Originally slated for release on Feb. 14, the security updates were held while Mozilla developers investigated a bug that affected some, though not all, users of the betas. According to Mozilla, the bug caused some copies of the updates to repeatedly crash. Mozilla then backed out a recent bug fix to retest the betas.

Around the same time, a cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability surfaced. "Adobe is worried about it being a 0-day and wants us to ship quickly," said Mozilla on its site . The vulnerability is presumably in Firefox, but Mozilla has provided no information on how it may impact Adobe software.

Unlike Google's Chrome, Firefox does not bundle Adobe software. But Adobe's Reader and Flash plug-ins are found in most users' browsers.

Adobe has said it knows nothing about a potential zero-day that would affect its software and/or Firefox.

Computerworld was unable to locate any public discussion of a CSRF vulnerability in Firefox or an Adobe plug-in, such as Reader or Flash.

Later in its discussions over the release timelines for Firefox 3.5.17 and 3.6.14, Mozilla decided that the CSRF bug "isn't serious enough to build for explicitly," and so would go ahead with plans to release the two updates sans patch.

Mozilla did not immediately reply to a request for confirmation, but from a reading of the company's notes on Firefox 3.5.17 and 3.6.14, the patch for the CRSF vulnerability will not be included in next week's updates.

Some CSRF vulnerabilities can allow attackers to execute remote code against a vulnerable browser; if that's the case with this Firefox flaw and if it is not patched soon, the browser may be vulnerable to attack at Pwn2Own, the hacking contest that kicks off March 9 at the CanSecWest security conference in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Firefox will be one of four browsers -- the others are Chrome, Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Apple's Safari -- that will be targeted by attackers hoping to walk off with $15,000 or $20,000 in cash.

Pwn2Own's rules state that the targeted browsers will be "the latest release candidate at the time of the contest."

Last year, Mozilla confirmed a critical vulnerability in Firefox less than a week before 2010's Pwn2Own, but said it wouldn't fix the flaw until after the contest. Pwn2Own organizers then ruled that hackers would not be allowed to use the vulnerability to hack Firefox.

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@computerworld.com .

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

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