Internet Explorer best at malware and privacy protection

Back in May, NSS Labs shared the results of their testing of how successful popular Web browsers are in detecting malware, showing that the latest versions of Internet Explorer (10) and Chrome (25/26) were considerably more effective that those of Safari (5), Firefox (19) and Opera (12):

Their latest testing and reports concentrate on phishing protection and privacy settings.

When it comes to the former, the researchers discovered that overall response times have improved dramatically across the board.

Judging by the mean block rate, Firefox and Safari are the best at spotting and blocking phishing attempts, and Internet Explorer is the worst:

“Chrome, Firefox and Safari all use Google’s Safe Browsing API, and all scored within 4 percent of each other,” the researchers explained the results. “Internet Explorer uses Microsoft’s SmartScreen technology for both malware and phishing protection. Opera uses a combination of blacklists from Netcraft and PhishTank, as well as a malware blacklist from TRUSTe.”

Still, phishing protection is only one security attribute of a browser. “Socially engineered malware blocking capabilities must be factored into an assessment of overall browser security,” they point out.

Interestingly enough, when it comes to privacy mechanisms , Internet Explorer is again the top pick.

While all of the tested browsers (Safari, Chrome, IE and Firefox) warn the user before allowing a website to access geo‐location information, only IE has “Do Not Track” on by default and provides tracking protection as a built-in option:

“Do Not Track is currently ineffective as a privacy mechanism,” the researchers pointed out, but they consider Microsoft setting it on by default as a “positive statement of intent to respect user privacy”.

It’s also good to keep in mind that private browsing modes do not eliminate tracking.

For more details about the testing, the results, and the browsers’ capabilities and features, look to the reports linked above.

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