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Microsoft scores first place in malware blocking test with Internet Explorer 9

Speak of Internet Explorer to most computer-savvy people and chances are you will be given icy glares and a profound lecture of how Microsoft always fails to make a good browser that is capable of safeguarding a user from nasty malware circulating the depths of cyberspace, right? Well, not anymore; apparently, a recent study conducted by NSS Labs have shown that Internet Explorer 9 and Internet Explorer 8 clinched both first and second spots respectively where browser security is concerned. And no, we are not making this up.

When it comes to web browsers, most people tend to avoid Microsoft's Internet Explorer like the plague, often citing various "issues" such as its slow performance, non-conformance to popular online standards and more importantly, insecurity as the main reasons for doing so. And while the first two claims may have some degree of truth to it, it would seem that Microsoft has largely cleared up its act on the security front, especially if the latest study by NSS Labs is of any indication. Apparently, in an independent test, NSS Labs found that both Internet Explorer 9 and Internet Explorer 8 came through as clear winners in actively blocking malware from entering a user's PC, beating the likes of Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera by a huge margin.

According to the report published by NSS Labs, Internet Explorer 9, with its dual-pronged approach of actively filtering out malware via a combination of URL and application-based reputation scans, produced the best results by far. NSS Labs claims that Microsoft's URL filtering system was capable of nabbing as much as 92% of live threats, while the added protection offered by Application Reputation bumped the filter's success rate up to a perfect 100%, thus easily earning it the top spot in the test. And if that was not good enough, NSS Labs has also discovered that the older Internet Explorer 8 web browser did reasonably well in the test too, being able to stop as much as 90% of live threats from reaching a user.

In contrast, Safari 5, Chrome 10 and Firefox 4 were all tied for the third spot, with each browser reporting a significantly lower protection rate of only 13%; however, NSS Labs claims that this is due to all three browsers utilizing Google's Safe Browser system. Opera, on the other hand, was last with only a 5% block rate, a score which NSS Labs attributes to the browser's use of an AVG-based protection system, although the test credits Opera for making a significant improvement in security, as the previous version of the Opera web browser reportedly scored a 0 in an older test.

Last but definitely not least, NSS Labs claims that Internet Explorer 9 also holds the top spot in the amount of time needed to block websites that are known to host malware, although this is brought about by the browser's implementation of Application Reputation scanning, a feature which is not found in any of the other browsers used in the test.

With results as definitive as this, it is going to be very difficult for the "Internet Explorer is not secure" claim to hold any more water in today's context. So, if you are running a recent version of Windows on your computer and are looking for a good and secure web browser to safeguard your online web experience…well, let's just say that a trip down to Microsoft's download pages is in good order.

The full report can be downloaded off NSS Labs' website here.

Source: NSS Labs via Ars Technica

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