Mozilla yesterday reported a "huge increase" in downloads of Firefox in Germany after that country's computer security agency urged users of Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) to dump the browser and run a rival instead.
German downloads of Firefox during a four-day stretch starting last Friday jumped by about 300,000 over normal, said Ken Kovash, Mozilla's director of analytics, on the company's "Blog of Metrics." "Over the past few days there has been a huge increase in the number of Firefox downloads from IE users in Germany," Kovash claimed.
[ Microsoft today announced plans to issue an emergency IE patch. | InfoWorld's Roger Grimes explains how to stop data leaks in an enlightening 30-minute webcast, Data Loss Prevention, which covers the tools and techniques used by experienced security pros. ]
Norwegian browser maker Opera Software said that downloads in Germany of its desktop application were double the usual rate last weekend, and downloads in Australia were up 40 percent over normal.
Mozilla and Opera cited recommendations by German, French, and Australian authorities to stop using IE as the cause for the jump. Last Friday, Germany's Federal Office for Information Security, known by its German initials of BSI, and France's CERTA each called for users to stop running IE until Microsoft patches a critical vulnerability. "Pending a patch from the publisher, CERT recommends using an alternative browser," a translation of the French advisory stated.
An alert posted by the Australian government's Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy made a similar recommendation last week. "If you do not wish to install the temporary fixes [by Microsoft] ... consider using an alternate web browser (Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari are two such browsers) until an update becomes available," the alert read.
The countries were responding to Microsoft's confirmation last week that a flaw in IE was exploited by hackers to break into the corporate network of Google and other major Western companies. Google has alleged that the attacks were launched by Chinese attackers and security experts have offered evidence that links the attacks to China.
Microsoft has since announced that it will deliver an "out-of-band" update today at approximately 1 p.m. Eastern.