Earlier in the week Microsoft unveiled a new online security test to help educate users on the dangers of surfing with outdated browsers. The concept is noble, but they also succeeded in stirring up the Mozilla folks, and with just cause. The site yourbrowsermatters.org gives visitors the impression it is verifying features to assign a well-researched security score between 0-4, when in reality, it does little more than check the agent string to see what brand and version you are using. Internet Explorer 9 rakes in a perfect score of 4, IE 8 comes in at 3, and the latest versions of Firefox and Chrome come up at 2 & 2.5 respectively.
Mozilla has so far been the most vocal opponent of the site, and sounded off during an interview with Computerworld . "Mozilla is fiercely proud of our long track record of leadership on security," Johnathan Nightingale, the company's director of Firefox engineering, said in an email. "We believe that being safe on the Web means having a robust browser that defends against malware and phishing, includes new technologies to help sites and users secure themselves, and a responsive security team that gets security updates out quickly and reliably. Nightingale knocked the test, saying, "[It] is more notable for the things it fails to include," then cited three examples of criteria it lacks: HSTS, Do Not Track and patch response time.
Educating consumers with regards to online security is admirable, but it’s hard to argue that Microsoft isn’t a bit biased here. To further prove out the absurdity of the site in its current implementation, using the iPad’s Atomic browser I was told “they didn’t have enough info” to assign a score, but when I changed the identify to “Internet Explorer 9” in the settings menu, I was given a perfect score.
Should numerical rankings be left to third parties? Or is Microsoft within its rights to pronounce Internet Explorer 9 the most secure browser in town? I imagine a few Linux users might have a thing or two to say on this one.
Atomic Browser for iPad posing as Internet Explorer 9 Gets Four Thumbs Up.