Study: Internet Explorer 8 Protects Best Against Socially Engineered Malware

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 6, 2010
Updated • Jul 31, 2016
Internet Explorer

Most webmasters and Internet users agree that Internet Explorer 8 marked a huge step in compatibility, security and performance over previous versions of Internet Explorer.

The web browser is still lacking behind, especially in the performance field but managed to catch up or even surpass other popular web browsers in the security field.

The Web Browser Comparative Test, a test that is conducted every quarter of the year, came to the conclusion that Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8 protects the best from socially engineered malware.

Socially engineered malware is defined by the testers as a webpage link that leads directly to a malicious payload.


Study: Browser Mean Block-Rate

All web browsers in the test, except the Opera browser, managed to increase their effectiveness at blocking malware in the browser. Microsoft's Internet Explorer scored best by successfully stopping 85% of all threats the web browser exposed users to, followed by Firefox and Safari with 29%, Google Chrome with 17% and Opera with less than 1%.

Microsoft attributes the security increase in Internet Explorer 8 to a variety of security features including the SmartScreen Filter which is blocking more than 3 million urls per day.

The SmartScreen Filter uses a special URL Reputation Service (URS) with data centers hosted around the world and has evaluated over 250 billion URLs to help keep Internet Explorer 8 users safe! Every day, the SmartScreen Filter URS processes about 4.1 billion URLs looking for malicious websites and files; and since it was first introduced in Internet Explorer 7, the URS has processed over 5.7 trillion requests!

There have been reports in the past that Microsoft sponsored the studies conducted by NSS Labs. According to a post dating back to last year the company approached all browser developers and only Microsoft Research agreed to the sponsoring so that the study could be created.

The study can be downloaded in pdf format from the NSS Labs website.

Update: The study is no longer available on the NSS Labs website. We have removed the link to it as a consequence,

Study: Internet Explorer 8 Protects Best Against Socially Engineered Malware
Article Name
Study: Internet Explorer 8 Protects Best Against Socially Engineered Malware
A new study suggests that Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8 browser offers better protection against social engineered malware threats on the Internet.
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  1. nis said on March 6, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    Last time Haavard made quite a case againt NSS Labs:
    Even though he can be said to be non-neutral, read the report for yourself. Read the comments as well.
    Also there was a report in techherald:

  2. Joe said on March 6, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    Haavard only raised FUD about the test. He did not have proof why Opera should have scored better, especially since opera does not have any data sources for malware anymore.

    This is some awsome data about IE’s back end

  3. Chocobito said on March 7, 2010 at 1:20 am

    IMHO I think that study is incredible biases, all know about the bad security in IE, also this study say stop malware like the browser was a antivirus or something like that, I don’t get it.

  4. Fred said on March 7, 2010 at 1:36 am

    It is easy. To have a chance to be safe you need layers of security since no single product will catch everything. Av cleans protects you from malware already on your pc. Protection in the browser keeps it off your box. One form of protection compliments the other.

  5. Rob said on March 8, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    Why don’t you show us where it is stated that IE8 has bad security.
    Because we actually do not all know that.
    In fact I seriously doubt it.
    IE8 is on it’s own much safer than any other browser available.

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