IE9 thrashes rival browsers in security contest

By Stuart Sumner
16 Aug 2011 View Comments
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Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) browser offers the best protection against socially engineered malware (SEM), according to independent research.

Security testing organisation NSS Labs tested leading browsers including Apple Safari 5, Google Chrome 12, IE9, Mozilla Firefox 4 and Opera 11.

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The tests looked at how the browsers protected users against malicious URLs and potentially malicious downloads. This is the most common form of malware today, and often comes from social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Researchers found that IE9 was the best browser tested, blocking over 99 per cent of malicious URLs compared with Google's Chrome 12 at 13 per cent and Mozilla's Firefox 4 and Apple's Safari 5, which tied at third with 7.6 per cent, according to reports.

They cited the browser's cloud-based reputation system as part of the reason behind its strong performance.

Speaking exclusively to Computing recently, Jeb Haber, principal program manager lead for Internet Explorer security, said IE9's reputation system was responsible for reducing the risk to his customers:

"Our reputational analysis leads to dramatic reduction in infections. We estimate that it will prevent more than 20 million additional infections per month."

He explained that the system works by analysing the results of customers' experiences around the world, including the malware that they are exposed to.

"It's about building a closed loop intelligence system. We feed customer data into learning systems, make decisions and return that data back to customers in order to decide whether to block something," he said.

Unlike the other browsers tested, NSS Labs found that the security of Safari and Firefox had decreased in effectiveness since 2010.

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