Since most tech security threats come from the Internet, a user’s web browser is often the first line of defense when it comes to keeping viruses and other malware off a computer or corporate network.
So which browser does the best job at blocking attacks from malicious websites? That depends on who you ask. All major browsers include features designed to warn users before they go to sites that may harm their computers and to isolate the threats before they can do any harm.
The question, “which one has the most effective security features?” is often the subject of debate. For example, a recent study released by security firm Accuvant claimed Google’s Chrome to be the most secure browser, followed by Internet Explorer and Mozilla’s Firefox. That ranking was based on factors such as the quality of the browsers’ URL blacklisting, how often updates and patches are released, and how well the software “sandboxes” threats, or keeps them from affecting the rest of the user’s system.
But there is one catch. Though Accuvant published the details of its analysis to show there was no bias, the study was commissioned by Google, so many observers don’t trust the results. Shortly after the study was released, Microsoft launched its own website, yourbrowsermatters.com, to test browser security. Not surprisingly, the company’s own Internet Explorer 9 gets a perfect score, while the most recent releases of Chrome and Firefox come in second and third place, respectively.
So which web browser is the most secure? The real answer is that each piece of software has its own advantages and disadvantages when it comes to security. But whichever browser a person or organization chooses to use, one thing is clear: They must make sure the browser is kept fully patched and updated.
One study conducted in 2011 found that 40% of all web traffic came from outdated browsers – including 10% from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 6, which is ten years old. That’s a problem, because those old browsers likely contain many security vulnerabilities that put a computer at risk.
More important than the individual browser a user chooses, experts say, is keeping the browser and all of its plug-ins up-to-date.