Apparently Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser leads the pack in more ways than just market share. With regards to IE9, socially engineered malware (SEM) barely has a chance of wreaking havoc, according to a study put together by NSS Labs. The study's data has IE9 way out in front of all other browsers tested with a better than 99 percent protection rate.
It was found to have blocked 81% of live malware threats during the tests. The figure seems more imposing once you learn that the runner-up, Firefox 3, only managed to block 27% of malware threats. To boot, Microsoft’s browser also managed to block 83% of phishing URLs, with Firefox finishing second with 80%.
But Ars Technica has cast doubts over the veracity of the tests. The heavily lopsided nature of the results is not the only thing to blame for its skepticism. Amy Barzdukas, General Manager of Internet Explorer, told Ars Technica that the tests had been sponsored by Microsoft. Apparently, it ended up becoming the lone sponsor, as other companies didn’t respond to NSS Labs’ call for funding. Microsoft claims to have had no control over the results.
"We invited Google, Mozilla, Apple, Opera to participate, but they didn’t even bother to respond, except for Opera, which stated they “don’t really focus on malware," NSS Labs’ president, Rick Moy, told Ars Technica.
Microsoft's latest browser, Internet Explorer 8, has gotten mixed reviews from MaximumPC.com 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?).
ComputerWorldreports that IE8 did the best job of fending off attacks from 492 malware-distributing websites, blocking 69% of attacks (details here [PDF link]). If you're not using IE8, join us after the jump to learn how your favorite browser fared.