Hopping around the web downloading programs willy-nilly is a surefire way of putting your PC's security software to the test. Think you're in the clear if you download judiciously? If only! According to Microsoft, 1 out of every 14 programs downloaded by Windows users contains malware. What's worse, even though Internet Explorer 9 has multiple layers of security designed to protect surfers from socially engineered malware attacks, 5 percent of IE9 users blatantly ignore the warnings.
Microsoft posted a lengthy blog detailing how Internet Explorer 9 blocks socially engineered malware attacks, which are designed to trick users into running a malicious program. These types of attacks are more common than attacks on security vulnerabilities, Microsoft says.
"IE9 adds another layer of defense against socially engineered attacks that now looks at the application being downloaded - this is in addition to the URL-based protection... This new layer of protection is called SmartScreen Application Reputation," Microsoft explains. "When it comes to program downloads, other browsers today either warn on every file or don’t warn at all. Neither of these approaches helps the user make a better decision. Application Reputation also addresses a limitation present in all block-based approaches that happens at the beginning of new attacks, before a Web site or program has been identified as malicious."
According to Microsoft, its new security protocols are working. Even though 5 percent of IE9 users still ignore malware warnings, that means 95 percent choose to delete or not run the offending program. Microsoft figures its Application Reputation system will prevent more than 20 million additional infections per month, which is on top of the existing SmartScreen URL reputation blocks.