Internet Explorer leads with over 99% block rate for malicious downloads; Chrome’s block rate increases to 70%

AUSTIN, Texas – October 24, 2012 − NSS Labs today released the final results and analysis from its web browser security comparative which evaluated the protection offered by the four leading browsers – Apple Safari, Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, and Mozilla Firefox – against malware downloads on PCs running Windows 8. Chrome’s malware download protection improved significantly from 27% to 70%, a dramatic improvement from previous tests. With a block rate of 99%, Internet Explorer 10 outperforms the other browsers by at least 28%.

Key browser security test conclusions:

  • Malware downloads via web browsers are the primary infection vector to compromise end users. NSS Labs therefore continuously monitors and reports on web browsers’ protection capabilities.
  • Users of Internet Explorer are significantly more protected, with IE blocking nearly all malicious downloads with a 99% block rate. Chrome has improved significantly, yet it failed to block approximately three out of ten attacks. In more than 9 out of 10 attacks, Safari and Firefox fail to protect the user.
  • Only Internet Explorer and Chrome have technology to prevent malware from being downloaded by users if their separate URL reputation screening features fail.
  • Chrome’s improved protection is mostly due to enhanced file-based reputation screening. Its URL reputation was on par with Firefox and Safari, which do not provide file-based reputation.
  • This report covers 91,000 test cases conducted in September 2012 and is a continuation of NSS Labs’ previously published 6 month test: Is Your Browser Putting You at Risk?

Commentary: NSS Labs Research Director Randy Abrams

“Web browsers are the first line of defense for consumers and enterprises alike as they can prevent malware from reaching the operating system,” said Randy Abrams, Research Director at NSS Labs. “Windows 8 users should pay attention to the effects on security their choice of browser makes. A few milliseconds faster web page rendering will not compensate for the time spent recovering from malware infections, so security must be a high consideration when selecting a web browser.”

The products covered in this test were:

  • Apple Safari 5
  • Google Chrome 21
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 10
  • Mozilla Firefox 15