Independent security organization NSS Labs released a report today claiming that Internet Explorer 9, the latest version of Microsoft's web browser, detected 99.2% of all socially engineered malware in its tests, compared to 13.2% for Chrome 12, 7.6% for Firefox 4, 7.6% for Safari 5, and 6.1% for Opera 11 (the most recent versions of the competing web browsers available at the time of testing). NSS Labs defines socially engineered malware as "a web page link ... designed to fool the user into taking action."

The full report, which includes in-depth methodology for the test and can be found here in PDF format, credits IE9's SmartScreen filter for its high score - SmartScreen can warn users against visiting both known-bad URLs and downloading executables with suspicious attributes

Of course, socially engineered malware is just one of many types of malware, and IE's detection alone isn't enough to stop users from downloading and running the malicious software anyway. There is no foolproof way to keep any computing device completely safe from malware, but in Windows particularly you'd still be well-advised to use antivirus protection and, whenever possible, run as a standard user instead of a computer administrator.

[Thanks to AT commenter Braumin for the tip!]

Source: NSS Labs



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  • B3an - Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - link

    Still using FF4? FF6 is out.

    And NoScript doesn't detect anything at all. It just blocks all JS and Flash outright, and thats very inconvenient for most users. Just using IE9 would be best for most people.
  • SoCalBoomer - Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - link

    Does it actually detect or does it just not allow ANY scripts to run, whether beneficial or not. . .? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - link

    Maybe I haven't tried it lately, but I keep disabling SmartScreen because it seems to slow down page load times -- basically, you have to wait on every URL while it gets checked with the MS database. I'd be curious to see some performance results with and without SmartScreen, as well as what happens to the "security" of IE9 when SmartScreen is turned off. Reply
  • FaaR - Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - link

    If you turn off the security features, what would you expect to happen with the security level?


    It's like un-snapping your seatbelt while driving your car and then deliberately crashing into a concrete wall to check what the effect of impacts while not wearing a seatbelt might be.
  • Lifted - Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - link

    "basically, you have to wait on every URL while it gets checked with the MS database."

    Yes, Microsoft's version of Google Analytics which is running on almost every website out there (and is on permablock by my noscript). Microsoft can now track IE users web browsing habits with the guise of "we care about you sooooo much that we make sure every site you visit is safe".

  • sleepeeg3 - Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - link

    Too bad about the other 0.8% that gets through lol! Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - link

    I do wish that MS would change the default security setting of 'medium' for their built in pop-up blocker! No wonder people complain... set the damn thing to HIGH Reply
  • enterco - Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - link

    Ok, let's asume that the results are right.
    What else can IE do ? I'm disappointed by it's slowness. IE9 is even worse, the browser often freezes for seconds when loading pages. And I have no connection / AV problem, other browsers work fine!
    About safety: no one is safe on the internet. Period.
  • formulav8 - Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - link

    I've been using IE since way back when. IE9 is definitely the best so far. I definitely do Not experience what your saying. IE9 is very fast for me thanks to GPU acceleration. I tested with GPU Acceleration on and off and its night and day difference when the website has a bunch of images and so on. Reply
  • enterco - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    I agree tha tIE9 works generally faster than it's previous versions. It's speed seem to be equal to Firefox. But until IE9 i never experienced lock-ups of the browser window, times when the browser does nothing and it's simply non-responsive. I don't install any toolbars or any other things that usually slow down IE.
    This lag isn't happening with any of the other browsers I tried.

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