If you're using a search engine today to find a download of Firefox 7, be careful about the results you click on. That's because a dubious website called Firefox7.org appears high up in those results.
The site was discovered Wednesday by Sophos security expert Graham Cluely when doing a routine search on "Firefox 7."
Firefox7.org has no relationship with the browser's maker, the Mozilla Foundation, Cluely wrote in the Naked Security blog. The site is registered to someone in China named Xiaojuan Zhang, who lives in Shenzhen in Guandong province.
A software piracy ring located in Shenzhen was broken up by the FBI and Chinese authorities in 2007. Another resident of that city was arrested by the FBI and sentenced to 30 months in prison last year for exporting counterfeit Cisco products into the United States from a company he set up in Shenzhen.
Clueley could not find anything overtly malicious about the site, other than it appeared to be a way to scrape money from visitors through Google AdSense ads. The site does beg a few questions, however. For instance, if the site's author is a Firefox fan, why isn't there a link to a real download page for Firefox7 instead of a bunch of Blogspot links?
Mozilla released Firefox 7 yesterday. Among the improvements in the new release are better memory management, faster performance, and better add-on compatibility than in previous versions.
According to Alexa.com, which provides information on web sites, the site is pretty obscure. It's ranked 594,065 worldwide, although in China, it's ranked much higher: 82,457. In addition, traffic at the site has been steadily climbing since September 23.
Cluely was a bit miffed at Mozilla for not being more proactive about snipping this kind of confusion in the bud. "Whatever the intentions of the person behind this website, it seems pretty silly for Mozilla not to have registered this domain to avoid this kind of thing from happening, considering how quickly they are getting through version numbers these days," he chided.
Mozilla announced earlier this year that it was stepping up the release schedule for its popular browser. To do that, Mozilla is sticking to a tight schedule and is no longer waiting for features to stabilize before pushing a version out the door.
The new rapid release schedule has prompted some developers to suggest that Mozilla forget version numbers entirely in future versions of Firefox. “We're moving to a more Web-like convention, where it's simply not important what version you're using as long as it's the latest version,” Firefox Product Manager Asa Dotzler argued in a developers' forum.
Dotzler's comments poked a hornet's nest of controversy and a dump truck of personal attacks against the Firefox product manager. Things got so out of hand that the principal designer of the Firefox team, Alex Faaborg, had to step in and instruct the Mozilla faithful to mind their manners. However, Mozilla did eventually repudiate the idea of removing version numbers from Firefox.