A web browsing security test that pitted Internet Explorer 8 against Firefox 3, Opera 10, Safari 4 and Google Chrome 4 had one winner: the conclusion was that Internet Explorer 8 was the most secure web browser, at least in the area that were tested by security research company NSS Labs.
, which is available at the company's website for download was sponsored by Microsoft's online security engineering team and a summary of it was later sent to marketing after the results were published.
The test analyzed the web browser's phishing protection. Both Internet Explorer 8 and Firefox 3 (that is Firefox 3.0.11 and not Firefox 3.5) managed to score an average block rate of 83% and 80% during the 14 days of testing. Opera 10 managed to block 54%, Google Chrome 26% and Safari a whopping 2%.
The average phishing URL catch rate for browsers over the entire 14 day test period ranged from 2% for Safari 4 to 83% for Windows Internet Explorer 8. Internet Explorer 8 and Firefox 3 were the most consistent in the high level of protection they offered. Statistically, Internet Explorer 8 and Firefox 3 had a two-way tie for first, given the margin of error of 3.96%. Opera 10 beta came in third due to inconsistent protection during the test. Chrome 2 was consistent, albeit at a much lower rate of protection, and Safari offered minimal overall protection.
The test analyzed the average response time to phishing attacks. Internet Explorer 8 finished first with an average response time of about 5 hours closely followed by Firefox and Google Chrome. It took Opera about double the time and Apple more than 10 times to protect against emerging phishing attacks.
Many users will criticize the test because it has been sponsored by Microsoft. This alone should not be reason to dismiss the findings as inaccurate. There have however been accusations of manipulated reports by NSS Labs in the past which are for example mentioned on a blog post at the Opera website (no longer available).
Some of the points of criticism like mixing beta and final versions, or limiting test urls to a very low number are also valid points in the report.
Even critics have to admit on the other hand that Microsoft has made progress with Internet Explorer 8. The web browser might still not be as fast as the others but it is definitely a solid web browser which could be the most secure web browser when it comes to protecting users from phishing attacks. It has to be noted that the test is only considering the automated protection.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.