Google Chrome may be top dog when it comes to the most popular web browsers, but Mozilla Firefox certainly isn't the underdog. While Chrome attracted around 46 percent of web users in 2015, Firefox, Internet Explorer and even Safari were clinging to its coattails.
Over the past few years, Firefox has averaged around 16 percent of the market. However, that number declined in 2015, dropping to just over 14 percent. Is it possible that this decline is due to all of the security issues that have plagued Firefox over the past year?
Yes, it is. But that may be due to some misconceptions about the nature of the internet and browsers in general.
According to The Register, Mozilla Firefox has patched 130 serious flaws in 2016 alone. We've shared many of these critical Firefox patches over the course of the year through stories like this one, as well as changes to the browser's features.
To find many of these holes, Firefox uses what are known as "bug bounty programs." These programs essentially assign hackers the task of finding security issues within Mozilla's software that could potentially lead to serious security issues. The findings of these "hacks" are then reported back to Mozilla so that patches can be developed and released.
Programs such as these are essential tools that identify potential problems before they occur, rather than after a vulnerability has been exploited.
Richard Barnes, head of Mozilla's cybersecurity, explained, "Hundreds of millions of people use Firefox to connect to the web. That's a huge audience for the user-facing security features and protections we build into Firefox, but at the same time, a single security vulnerability can put all of our users at risk of having their computers or phones taken over by bad actors."
Mozilla is not alone in taking on the challenge of protecting the security of online users. Other key players, such as Google and Facebook, are also working together to enhance encryption technology. It's also important to point out that these companies also face the same challenges when it comes to identifying flaws within their code and software. Google Chrome has also been patching several security bugs this year, and Facebook fell victim to a months-long hack.
The reality is that these are the challenges all companies face, thanks to the nature of the internet. If you're looking for the most secure web browser, one thing that really helps is to know how frequently updates are issued by each company. Here's a breakdown:
- Google Chrome: Updated every 15 days
- Mozilla Firefox: Updated every 28 days
- Internet Explorer: Updated every 30 days
- Opera: Updated every 48 days
- Safari: Updated every 54 days
So, if Firefox is your preferred browser it's good to be aware that bugs are common, but that a new patch is available every 28 days. These updates typically take place automatically when you open the browser, but you can also update to the most current version by visiting mozilla.com/firefox.