Chrome and Firefox may soon drop Theora codec support

In a move driven by security concerns and user demand, Google and Mozilla are about to remove support for the Theora video codec in their browsers. The companies emphasize that the potential security risks associated with Theora outweigh its usage among users.

Theora's implementation involves intricate mechanisms for parsing binary data and decoding streams, which can introduce vulnerabilities. Additionally, the frequency of zero-day attacks targeting media codecs has been on the rise. To mitigate these risks, the browser makers find more efficient to remove support for an underutilized codec rather than dealing with the aftermath of potential attacks.

Mozilla has reported that Theora accounts for only 0.09% of content downloaded via Firefox. Similarly, Google has acknowledged that its metrics collection systems for Chrome cannot accurately measure Theora's minimal usage within the browser. Nevertheless, users will still be able to play downloaded content by utilizing JavaScript implementations of the codec.

The phase-out process in Chrome will occur gradually, beginning with Chrome version 120. Starting in October, Chrome will stop supporting Theora for 50% of users in the development branch, followed by 50% in the beta branch in early November. On January 8, 2024, it will remove support for half of the users in the stable build. Finally, by January 16, Theora support will be completely eliminated.

Theora is a product of the Xiph Foundation. The source code uses the VP3 codec as its base. Firefox and Chrome support Theora since 2009. However, it was never integrated into Chrome for Android or browsers relying on the WebKit engine.

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Author: Sergey Tkachenko

Sergey Tkachenko is a software developer who started Winaero back in 2011. On this blog, Sergey is writing about everything connected to Microsoft, Windows and popular software. Follow him on Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

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