Which web browser, with its default configuration, is best at blocking malware? According to a recent NSS Labs study it is Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 which performed the best during the course of the study. Want some numbers? Microsoft's Internet Explorer blocked 94% of general malware and 96.6% of click fraud the researchers threw at the browser. All other browsers performed a lot worse in the test. Google Chrome, which came second in both tests, blocked only 27.6% of malware and only 1.6% of click fraud. Firefox performed even worse, blocking only 5% of malware and 0.8% of click fraud. Safari 5 came last stopping 4.7% of malware and 0.7% of click fraud in its tracks.
The developers tested the web browsers over a period of 175 days against a set of 84,000 malicious urls running a total of more than 3 million test runs. Browser versions were updated automatically when new versions were released by the developers of the web browser.
Internet Explorer's SmartScreen technology appears highly effective in blocking a large percentage of malware and click fraud on day one of release. Chrome's performance is better than that of Firefox and Safari thanks to is malicious download module which blocks downloads that it considers to be malicious.
As far as click fraud goes, it is not that relevant to end users, as it is affecting advertisers and webmasters directly. It basically revolves around generating clicks on ads with the sole intention of driving the revenue of a site or network up.In this particular study only click fraud urls were monitored. The researchers noted that users sometimes were infected with malware as a by-product of click fraud.
NSS Labs in the past accepted sponsorships to conduct studies. For this particular study, no such sponsorship was accepted.
Browsers like Firefox or Google Chrome offer extensions that add protection to the browser. Add-ons like NoScript or Adblocker would likely have improved the efficiency when it comes to malware and click fraud blocking in browsers. It is still interesting to see how well Internet Explorer performed in the test. While this won't convince me to make the browser my default, it should be reassuring to Windows users who work with the browser on a day to day basis.
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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.