Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

8/13/2009
02:28 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Lab: IE8 Beats Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera In Catching Socially Engineered Malware

Internet Explorer 8 leads by a 54 percent margin in catching these cagey links, while IE8 and Firefox 3 each detect around 80 percent of all phishing sites

Internet Explorer 8 detected nearly three times as many socially engineered malware links than Apple's Safari 4 and Mozilla's Firefox 3, according to new test results from an independent security lab.

IE8 blocked 81 percent of socially engineered malware URLs -- those links that appear to be legitimate in order to dupe the user into "downloading" something -- while Firefox 3.0.11 caught 27 percent; Apple Safari 4.0.2, 21 percent; Google Chrome 2.0.172.33, 7 percent; and Opera 10 Beta, only 1 percent, according to a new round of browser security feature tests by NSS Labs.

Both IE8 and Firefox nearly equally caught most phishing sites: IE8 detected 83 percent of them, while Firefox 3 caught 80 percent. Opera 10 Beta stopped about 54 percent, while Chrome 2 blocked 26 percent, and Safari 4 just 2 percent.

So how did IE8 fare so much better in nabbing socially engineered malware threats? "The difference is the reputation system in the cloud," says Rick Moy, president of NSS Labs. "It comes back to Microsoft's resources."

Amy Barzdukas, general manager of Internet Explorer, concurred. "We have tremendous reach," she says, including Microsoft's opt-in program for customers that gathers real threat data, and Microsoft's global security response organization. "The [customer data] feedback and telemetry gives us visibility on what's going on worldwide in a very significant way," Barzdukas says.

In NSS Labs' previous test of the browsers back in February, IE8 caught 69 percent of socially engineered malware. Barzdukas attributed the 12 percent jump to the latest version of IE8 being the final release version.

Firefox 3 and Safari 4 dipped slightly from earlier in the year, about 3 percent, but Chrome went from catching 16 percent of socially engineered malware sites earlier this year to 8 percent in July, and Opera 10 Beta from 5 percent to 1 percent.

"Chrome 2 performed very consistently, albeit very poorly. Chrome 2 lost the most ground compared to Internet Explorer 8 over the two tests, declining 8% and blocking 74% fewer malicious sites than the leader," the NSS Labs report says. "Users should not expect any protection against socially engineered malware from Opera 10 Beta."

Meanwhile, this type of malware is on the rise. "When we added protections against socially engineered malware in IE8, we were even surprised at how much malware it was catching -- we expected it would catch a lot, but we didn't expect it to catch 20 times as much malware as phishing sites. That speaks to the increase in socially engineered malware," Microsoft's Barzdukas says.

In the phishing test, NSS found that Chrome's 26 percent rate of detection was "below average," even though Firefox 3 also deploys Google's SafeBrowsing API. "We expected better results given the fanfare about Google's SafeBrowsing Initiative," the report says.

NSS Labs' Moy says he was both disappointed and encouraged by the test results. "I didn't expect the low watermarks to be as low as they are. But I didn't expect the high ones to be as high as they are," he says. "I was pleasantly surprised with IE8, and Firefox did a good job on phishing."

He says browser vendors can do more using reputation systems as an extra layer of security. "And the takeaway from these reports is enterprise security managers can now make a decision on which browser to recommend to their corporation," he says.

NSS Labs conducted the live tests around the clock during a 12-day period in July. Moy says the tests not only pitted the browsers head to head against one another, but also tested them against the bad guys. NSS plans to perform another round of browser tests next quarter, he says.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 9/17/2020
Cybersecurity Bounces Back, but Talent Still Absent
Simone Petrella, Chief Executive Officer, CyberVista,  9/16/2020
Meet the Computer Scientist Who Helped Push for Paper Ballots
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  9/16/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world -- and enterprise computing -- on end. Here's a look at how cybersecurity teams are retrenching their defense strategies, rebuilding their teams, and selecting new technologies to stop the oncoming rise of online attacks.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-8225
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-18
A cleartext storage of sensitive information in Nextcloud Desktop Client 2.6.4 gave away information about used proxies and their authentication credentials.
CVE-2020-8237
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-18
Prototype pollution in json-bigint npm package < 1.0.0 may lead to a denial-of-service (DoS) attack.
CVE-2020-8245
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-18
Improper Input Validation on Citrix ADC and Citrix Gateway 13.0 before 13.0-64.35, Citrix ADC and NetScaler Gateway 12.1 before 12.1-58.15, Citrix ADC 12.1-FIPS before 12.1-55.187, Citrix ADC and NetScaler Gateway 12.0, Citrix ADC and NetScaler Gateway 11.1 before 11.1-65.12, Citrix SD-WAN WANOP 11....
CVE-2020-8246
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-18
Citrix ADC and Citrix Gateway 13.0 before 13.0-64.35, Citrix ADC and NetScaler Gateway 12.1 before 12.1-58.15, Citrix ADC 12.1-FIPS before 12.1-55.187, Citrix ADC and NetScaler Gateway 12.0, Citrix ADC and NetScaler Gateway 11.1 before 11.1-65.12, Citrix SD-WAN WANOP 11.2 before 11.2.1a, Citrix SD-W...
CVE-2020-8247
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-18
Citrix ADC and Citrix Gateway 13.0 before 13.0-64.35, Citrix ADC and NetScaler Gateway 12.1 before 12.1-58.15, Citrix ADC 12.1-FIPS before 12.1-55.187, Citrix ADC and NetScaler Gateway 12.0, Citrix ADC and NetScaler Gateway 11.1 before 11.1-65.12, Citrix SD-WAN WANOP 11.2 before 11.2.1a, Citrix SD-W...