NSS Puts Browsers to the Online Security Test

Oct 25, 2012 16:15:37Posted by John Skorick, MyAKA Founder & CEO

NSS Puts Browsers to the Online Security Test

Are you a Firefox fan, or do you prefer Chrome? These days, some people vocally support an internet browser like they would a presidential candidate, and they'll likely have plenty of reasons why their preferred surfing tool is the best. Whether you like easy bookmarking, multiple tabs, a colorful layout or speedy downloads, there is one aspect of a browser that should trump all others - internet security. The browser you use should be the first barrier of protection against dangerous malware that can ruin your machine and even leak personal data, and a new report from NSS Labs may help you decide which is safest.

The group compared four of the leading browsers - Apple Safari 5, Google Chrome 21, Microsoft Internet Explorer 10 and Mozilla Firefox 15. Researchers looked at how these browsers stood up to 91,000 samples of real world malware over a period of 20 days.

It may be surprising to some, but Internet Explorer came out on top, with the ability to block 99.1 percent of all malware. Internet Explorer has been the butt of jokes recently, as it was one of the first browsers available, and is viewed by many to be somewhat prehistoric. In terms of internet privacy protection, however, it's the leader of the pack.

Google's Chrome operator was next in line, with the ability to block 70.4 percent of malware. After that, the numbers dropped off significantly - Safari only blocked 4.3 percent, and Firefox blocked 4.2 percent.

"To put the numbers in perspective, for every twenty encounters with socially engineered malware, Firefox and Safari users will be protected from approximately one attack," says NLS. "That means nineteen out of twenty socially engineered malware attacks against Firefox and Safari users will end up testing the user's antivirus and/or operating system defenses." In comparison, Chrome users will be safe from 14 out of 20 attacks, and Internet Explorer surfers will be safe from virtually all attacks.

Small business owners may want to keep this in mind when considering internet privacy issues at their company. They should consider requiring employees to use a specific browser on any work-owned computers, laptops, tablets or mobile phones. It may not seem necessary to put browser requirements on mobile devices, but scammers sometimes use false text messages or web-based links to gain access to a user's mobile identity.