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What's the safest web browser?

Se_malware.jpg When it comes to certain types of threats online, what's the safest web browser? Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome or Safari?

Turns out the answer is...Internet Explorer.

In a study, Internet Explorer 9 defended against 99 per cent of malware threats while Internet Explorer 8 blocked about 90 per cent. 

Firefox came a distant third, reportedly denying 19.5 per cent of threats and Safari defended about 11 per cent. Oh yeah - Google Chrome closed the door on a measly 3.4 per cent. 

That's according to the results of research from NSS Labs which looked at something called socially-engineered malware.

What exactly is socially-engineered malware? In basic English, it's bad software installed due to a naive human goof-up.

So while a web browser could be built to protect users against nasty code in web sites, not all people are smart enough to not click on pop-ups or download rogue codecs.

The report is quite narrow in its focus here, but socially-engineered threats are nothing to pass off. According to Symantec, socially-engineered malware attacks will become increasingly popular. We are, after all, human.

PC World also says social engineering is one of the top security threats we should watch for in 2011. 

So what made IE 8 & 9 so good and Safari and Chrome so awful?

Browsers use reputation-based technology to block sites that could be malicious. The reputations come from data stored in the cloud so your browser can automatically know if a URL is bad or good based on other users' experiences.

The data that Internet Explorer uses and the way it works seems to be quite effective. The study also says the latest version of Google's Safe Browsing API (a tool designed to keep users safe) on Firefox, Safari and Chrome is worse than its previous version.

What browser and security software do you use to stay safe on the web?

- Maurice Cacho, MSN Tech & Gadgets




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Danny BradburyDanny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with 20 years' experience. He writes regularly for publications including the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Financial Post, and Backbone magazine. Danny also writes and directs documentaries.

Maurice CachoMaurice Cacho

Maurice Cacho is a Toronto-based journalist mixing his love for tech with a passion for news. He's also CP24's Web Journalist and appears daily on CP24 Breakfast and weekly on the channel's tech show, Webnation, discussing tech news and trends.