IE8 Best at Stopping Social-Engineering Malware, Test Reports


Microsoft's latest browser, Internet Explorer 8, has gotten mixed reviews from readers (see comments here and here ), but one question that's hard for any individual user to answer about any browser is "how secure is it?"

To find out, Microsoft asked NSS Labs to pit IE8 RC1 against its predecessor, IE7, as well as the following third-party browsers: Firefox 3.0.7, Safari 3.2, Chrome 1.0.154, and Opera 9.64. The objective: find out which browser did the best job at handling so-called social-engineering malware sites - the ones that try to con you into downloading malware disguised as something else ("Adobe Flash update," anyone?).

ComputerWorld reports that IE8 did the best job of fending off attacks from 492 malware-distributing websites, blocking 69% of attacks (details here [PDF link]). Here's how IE8 RC1 fared in comparison to the rest at blocking the bad guys:

IE8 RC - 69%
Firefox 3.0.7 - 30%
Safari 3.2 - 24%
Chrome 1.0.154 - 16%
Opera 9.64 - 5%
IE7 - 4%

Interestingly, ComputerWorld reports that Firefox, Safari, and Chrome all use Google's SafeBrowsing API, despite the big differences in success rates in stopping malware.

Microsoft was the sole funder of the study, which has caused some commentors to wonder how accurate it could be. See the update on PCMag 's Security Watch story for a calmer re-evaluation of the funding issue, and to learn why depending upon your browser alone for protection isn't adequate.

What's your security experience with IE8? Hit Comment and let us know.

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