One of the most prevalent forms of malware on the Internet today is what is know as “socially-engineered malware” meaning malware that uses seemly benign links and/or trusted social networking sites (like Facebook® etc.) to trick visitors in to downloading and executing a piece of software that has malicious intent. Common examples of such seemly innocent programs are screen savers, video codec upgrades and free games.
Beginning in 2009, NSS Labs have been conducting tests on the leading web browsers to determine which browsers are most susceptible to socially-engineered malware. The Q3 2010 results have recently been published and the results are very interesting.
At the top of the leader board for protection surprisingly comes Internet Explorer. With a bad reputation over the years IE has often been pushed to one side in favor of Firefox, but these tests results portray IE in a new light. Internet Explorer 8 managed to block 90% of the malware but even more exceptional is that Internet Explorer 9 managed to catch 99% of the threats. These results are even more remarkable when compared to Firefox 3.6 which caught only 19% of the live threats which was actually a 10% decrease in protection from the Q1 2010 tests.
As for the rest of the browsers: Safari 5 caught 11% of the threats, down 18% from Q1 2010. Google Chrome 6 caught 3% of the threats, down 14% and Opera 10 caught nothing!