The browser warfare is heating up like never before. With Microsoft announcing revamp of its earlier search engine Windows Live Search in the form of Bing, and Google working on its next phase Search Engine named as Google Caffeine, the rules of the games are changing by each passing day.

Similar is the case with Internet Browsers.

While most of the focus is on the features-richness of the browsers and their usability, the security aspects sometimes tend to take a back seat. But their importance cannot be overlooked in this era.

NSSLabs, an independent agency with lots of reputation behind it, has found Internet Explorer 8, IE8, to be the most effective web browser against social engineered malware attacks.

safest browser

This test was carried out in the month of July 2009. Following is a summary of their findings.

  1. Internet Explorer 8 caught 81% of the live threats, an exceptional score which surpassed the next best browser (Firefox 3) by a 54% margin. Windows Internet Explorer 8 improved 12% between Q1 and Q2 tests, evidence of concerted efforts Microsoft is making in the SmartScreen technology.
  2. Firefox 3 caught 27% of live threats, far fewer than Internet Explorer 8. It was, however, the best among products utilizing the Google SafeBrowsing API. (Note: Firefox 3.5 was not stable enough to be tested during the course of this test. A patch has subsequently become available to address the stability issue. We were able to manually verify that the protection was identical between versions 3.0.11 and 3.5).
  3. Safari 4 caught 21% of live threats. Overall protection varied greatly, with two short periods of severe dips.
  4. Chrome 2 caught just 7% of live threats an 8% drop from the previous test.
  5. Opera 10 Beta caught a mere 1% of live threats, providing virtually no protection against socially engineered malware. In our test bed validation, we verified there was effectively no difference between Opera 9 and Opera 10 Beta.

The complete report is available here (pdf).