When choosing a web browser there are a few elements which you have to take into account, most people are impressed by fast browsers which offer an intuitive user experience, however security should be people’s biggest concern. If recently released research from the guys over at NSS Labs is to be believed Microsoft Internet Explorer is the most effective browser when it comes to socially-engineered malware.
NSS Labs ran active tests across six popular browsers, the test involved testing 615 malicious URLs over 19 days, both Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 and Internet Explorer 8 outperformed Opera 11, Firefox 4, Chrome 10 and Safari 5 massively. Apparently IE9 caught 92% of live threats, whilst IE8 caught 90%, Safari 5 caught 13%, Chrome 10 caught 13%, Firefox 4 caught 13% and Opera 11 caught 5%, this sounds worrying, however as ZDNet point out the findings are not necessarily accurate as they do not take into account security add-ons, browser protection features, and client-side vulnerabilities. That said you can’t ignore just how well Microsoft’s browsers done in the tests.
You can see a full details by checking out the documentation which NSS Labs released, what impressed us the most was the fact that if you used Internet Explorer 9 with both Application Reputation and SmartScreen enabled it resulted in the browser getting a 100% over-time protection rating and a 100% URL block rate.
If SmartScreen is not enabled for you simply open up IE9, click on the gear icon in the top right hand corner (tools), click safety and then select click “Turn on SmartScreen Filter, a box will show to confirm your actions (see below). By the looks of things enabling this auto enables Application Reputation.
Social malware is a massive threat in today’s world as so many people use social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, what also doesn’t help is the fact that URL shortening services can sometimes hide the true nature of a link you are clicking on. We think that everyone should use a Link Scanner if they are worried about social malware, also remember that if a link sounds too good to be true it probably is. If you see links saying “See who viewed your profile” or “See who poked me the most” on Facebook we would strongly advise against clicking them.
AVG LinkScanner is a great free tool which will scan links for you in real time, however don’t just think that a Link Scanner will keep you safe, you should also be using up-to-date antivirus software, a firewall and a bit of common sense. Remember to check out this PDF File if you are really interested in how different browsers cope with social malware threats.