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20 January 2010, 12:26

German government IE warning leads to spike in Firefox downloads

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Zoom The daily number of Firefox downloads by users in Germany.
Following a warning last Friday from the German Federal Office for Information Security (Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik, BSI) concerning the security hole in Internet Explorer (IE), Mozilla has said that it has recorded a "huge increase" in the number of Firefox downloads in Germany. According to a post by Mozilla's Ken Kovash on the Mozilla Blog of Metrics, more than 300,000 downloads of the open source browser took place during the recent Friday to Monday period. Similarly, Opera also reportedly saw downloads of its browser in Germany more than double.

In the days before the BSI warning, the average number of daily Firefox downloads ranged from just over 50,000 to approximately 90,000 between Christmas Eve and Boxing day, likely due to the number of new computers being received as gifts. The BSI advised users to switch from Internet Explorer to an alternative browser until a patch had been released for the hole in IE.

The vulnerability, which affects versions 6, 7 and 8 of IE, was exploited for a targeted attacks against Google, Adobe and numerous other US firms. The attacks are believed to have been launched by Chinese cyber spies. The hole, which has now been officially confirmed by Microsoft, allows attackers to inject and execute code on a Windows computer via specially crafted web pages. Microsoft says that it will release an out-of-cycle emergency patch to close the hole before the end of this week. The patch is currently undergoing quality assurance testing.

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