NSS Labs Test Results Reveal Which Browsers Are Most Effective Against Socially Engineered Malware

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Monday, March 31st 2014
Internet Explorer Holds the Lead With Over 99% Block Rate; Chrome Block Rate Drops ~13%
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AUSTIN, TX -- (Marketwired) -- 03/31/14 -- NSS Labs today released the results and analysis from its latest Browser Security Comparative Analysis Report which evaluated the ability of eight leading browsers -- Apple Safari, Google Chrome, Kingsoft Liebao, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Qihoo 360 Safe Browser, and Sogou Explorer -- to block against socially engineered malware (SEM). The use of social engineering to distribute malware continues to account for the bulk of cyber attacks against both consumers and enterprises, thereby making a browser's ability to protect against these kinds of attacks an important criterion for personal or corporate use.

Download the NSS Labs Browser Security Comparative Analysis Report - Socially Engineered Malware.

Other key findings include:

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer Continues to Outperform Other Browsers: With an average block rate of 99.9%, the highest zero-hour block rate, fastest average time to block, and highest consistency of protection over time percentages, Internet Explorer leads in all key test areas. Google Chrome remained in the top three, but its average block rate fell significantly to 70.7%, down from 83.17% in the previous test.
  • Cloud-based Endpoint Protection (EPP) File Scanning Provides Substantial Defenses When Integrated with Browser: Kingsoft Liebao Browser utilizes the same cloud-based file scanning system used by Kingsoft Antivirus and had the second highest overall block rate at 85.1%, ahead of Chrome by almost 15 percentage points.
  • Google's Safe Browsing API Does Not Provide Adequate SEM Protection: Apple Safari and Mozilla Firefox both utilize the Google Safe Browsing API and were the two lowest performing browsers in this latest test. Both also saw significant drops of around 6% in their average block rates -- Safari from 10.15% to 4.1% and Firefox from 9.92% to 4.2%.
  • Chinese Browsers Tested for the First Time Prove Viable: This year three browsers from China were included in testing for the first time and Kingsoft's Liebao Browser jumped ahead of Google Chrome with an overall protection rate of 85.1%. Sogou Explorer had the fourth highest average block rate at 60.1%.

Commentary: NSS Labs Research Director Randy Abrams
"Selecting a browser with robust socially engineered malware protection is one of the most critical choices consumers and enterprises can make to protect themselves. Microsoft's SmartScreen Application Reputation technology continues to provide Internet Explorer the most effective protection against socially engineered malware," said Randy Abrams, Research Director at NSS Labs. "This year NSS added three browsers from China. The Kingsoft Liebao browser displaced Chrome from second place by using a combination of URL filtering with the cloud-based file scanning technology that Kingsoft uses for their antivirus product. Sogou Explorer, another browser from China, was the only other tested browser to exceed 50% protection against socially engineered malware. Firefox and Safari failed to achieve 5% effectiveness and leave less technical users at considerable risk."

The products covered in this test were:

  • Apple Safari 5.1.7
  • Google Chrome 33.0.1750
  • Kingsoft Liebao Browser 4.5.37.6837
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 11.0.9600.16384
  • Mozilla Firefox 27.0.1
  • Opera 19.0.1326.63
  • Qihoo 360 Safe Browser 6.3.1.132
  • Sogou Explorer 4.2.6.10812

NSS Labs did not receive any compensation in return for vendor participation; All testing and research was conducted free of charge.

About NSS Labs, Inc.
NSS Labs, Inc. is the world's leading information security research and advisory company. We deliver a unique mix of test-based research and expert analysis to provide our clients with the information they need to make good security decisions. CIOs, CISOs, and information security professionals from many of the largest and most demanding enterprises rely on NSS Labs' insight, every day. For more information, visit www.nsslabs.com.

© 2014 NSS Labs, Inc. All rights reserved. All brand, product and service names are the trademarks, registered trademarks, or service marks of their respective owners.

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