Firefox 19 is a big security improvement

Mozilla quietly released Firefox 19 this week. Its biggest selling point is a built-in PDF viewer (like Google Chrome does), which makes me more comfortable than having Acrobat Reader installed–Mozilla is generally faster at fixing security holes than Adobe. Besides that, the built-in reader is fast. No waiting for Acrobat to launch. Short documents like IRS form 1040 display very quickly, though it wasn’t so crazy about me throwing the 237-page NIST 800-53 (if you’d like some light reading) at it. I closed the tab and revisited it, and it loaded the second time.

So this is an update you want. You may be wise to wait a day or two for it to stabilize (Firefox 18 was rapidly updated to 18.0.1 and 18.0.2 after its release), but being able to ditch Acrobat Reader (or leave it installed but only use it when absolutely necessary) definitely is appealing. Update it this weekend, maybe.

Firefox as a whole loads faster now too (though if you keep it in a ramdisk like I do, you may not notice). But I always like things to get faster. A computer can never be too fast or too inexpensive. Who wouldn’t agree?

The PDF viewer works by converting the PDF to HTML5. The designer in me is a little uncomfortable with that–some documents are likely to not render perfectly–but the security troll in me couldn’t be happier, because parsing data and converting it to another format, then displaying the conversion, is generally a very good way of handling dangerous data.

Now the question I have to answer (and you should be asking, too) is how necessary Flash still is.

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2 thoughts on “Firefox 19 is a big security improvement

  • February 21, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    Anyone remember Dmitry Sklyarov? When Adobe and the US government immorally lured him into the USA so they could charge him in the USA with something that he was doing legally in Russia, Adobe well-and-truly lost me at that stage. I’m still following the Adobe boycott. I’m a very dedicated and effective hater or even just plain loather and despiser.

    I can appreciate the important part that a non-modifiable “just-so” appearance from .PDF files plays, but if I have to I use an alternative to look at them – Foxit Reader at the moment. I’m still on dial-up, so I can’t afford the bandwidth used by YouTune or Flash, although that will change. I hope there are alternatives to Flash when I go looking, because Adobe is just altogether off the menu.

    • February 22, 2013 at 9:56 am

      Yes, I do remember that incident. My other beef with Adobe is their cavalier attitude toward fixing their products. They’re not as bad as Oracle, but if there’s a way for the bad guys to get into your computer or network these days, it’s much easier to find one through Acrobat, Flash, or Java than it is through the host operating system.

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