IE8 whips rivals in blocking malware sites
Microsoft's browser lengthens lead over No. 2 Firefox, blocks 81% of infected URLs
Computerworld - Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer 8 again trounced rival browsers in a test of their malware-blocking abilities, catching 81% of attack-code-infected sites, according to a testing company.
IE8's skills at sniffing out malware sites improved by 17% since March, said Rick Moy, president of NSS Labs, the firm that conducted the benchmarks. The testing was sponsored by Microsoft's security team.
IE8's improvement, and its dominance over competitors, could make some users reconsider decisions to abandon Microsoft's browser for one of its challengers. "Should people rethink that decision?" Moy asked. "By [this] data, absolutely."
While IE8 blocked eight of 10 of the malware-distributing sites that NSS included in its 12-day test, the nearest competitor, Mozilla's Firefox 3.0, caught just 27% of the same sites. Apple's Safari 4.0 and Google's Chrome 2.0, meanwhile, blocked only 21% and 7% of the sites, respectively. Opera Software's browser properly identified only 1%.
"I think it comes down to resources and the focus of these companies," Moy said in an interview, referring to Microsoft's ability to outspend rivals on such things as security research and malicious site investigations. "The more researchers you have, the better you'll do. Microsoft has a certain amount of paranoia [about security] because of its footprint of services that get attacked all the time, like Hotmail, and it has the money to hire really smart people."
Opera, which performed the poorest in the malware-blocking benchmarks, is an example on the other end of the spectrum, said Moy. "What resources do they really have to bring to the problem?" he asked. "There's a lot that can't be solved with software, but requires the human element."
NSS tested five Windows-based browsers -- IE8, Firefox 3.0.11, Safari 4.0.2, Chrome 188.8.131.52.33 and Opera 10 beta -- against more than 2,100 malware sites in 69 test runs over 12 days. Like the tests NSS Labs ran last March, the sites were so-called "socially engineered" malware sites, the type that trick users into downloading attack code. Typically, the download is disguised, often as an update to popular software such as Adobe's Flash Player.
The tests did not include sites that launch "drive-by" attacks that don't require user interaction, an increasingly common tactic by hackers who often infect legitimate sites with kits that try a number of different exploits in the hope of compromising an unpatched browser or PC.
To defend against the kind of sites that NSS tested, browser makers have added anti-malware features to their software. Microsoft, for instance, has aggressively touted its SmartScreen Filter, a new malware-detection feature in IE8.
All browsers that include such a tool -- or anti-phishing tools, which operate in a similar fashion -- rely on a blacklist of some sort. Those lists include known or suspected malware sites, and they enable the browsers to warn users when they type in the URL of one of the sites on the list.
- IE6: Retired but not dead yet
- Chrome users won't give up, keep pressing Google to restore old-style new tab page
- Google quashes 31 vulnerabilities, restores Metro mode 'steppers' with Chrome 34
- Firefox's UI face-lift on track for April debut
- Ex-Mozilla engineer blames Microsoft's rules for Metro Firefox's death
- Mozilla patches 20 Firefox flaws, plugs Pwn2Own holes
- Google reverses field, promises to restore Chrome's scrollbar arrows
- Update: Google ships Chrome 33, patches 28 bugs
- Mozilla's top exec defends in-Firefox ads, revenue search
- Mozilla taps in-Firefox ads as it searches for more revenue
- Radicati: Cloud Business Email - Market Quadrant 2013 Google was named the top cloud business email provider in a recent report by research firm Radicati. Out of 14 key players, Google...
- Tablets in the Enterprise: A Checklist for Successful Deployment How can you enterprise manage and secure tablets in order to protect corporate data while providing access to the information and applications employees...
- Enterprise Mobility: A Checklist for Secure Containerization The advantages and disadvantages of the multiple approaches to containerization. Learn More>>
- Enterprise File Sync & Share Checklist File sync and share has changed the way people work and collaborate in today's tech-savvy world. Gone are the email roadblocks, clunky FTP...
- Live Webcast LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy... All Security White Papers | Webcasts