Which browser offers the best malware protection?

Navigating the Internet without web browsers would be like trying to drink your coffee without a mug. It simply doesn’t work. But the browser is also what stands between you and the millions of malware circulating websites out there. Accordingly, all major browsers have their own various forms of protection to protect users from malicious software infections.

NSSLabs recently conducted a test in which the five leading browsing programs Apple Safari, Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Opera had to demonstrate their ability to protect against socially engineered malware downloads. A total of 754 real cyberthreats were used in this comparison. All five browsers were subjected to 550 test runs against these 754 unique malware URLs, resulting in over 18,000 test cases per browser.

Internet Explorer 10 is the safest, Opera ends up with the wooden spoon

The results of NSSLabs’ test are astonishing as there is a gap of almost 98% between the safest and the most insecure candidate. While Internet Explorer 10 blocked an impressive 99.96% of malware samples, Opera only scored a poor 1.87%. The second safest browser was Google Chrome with 83.16%. The only two programs that scored closely together were Apple Safari 5 and Mozilla Firefox 19 with 10.15% and 9.92% respectively.

Browser security comparisonSource: NSSLabs

Do I still need a security program?

Almost 100% detection of all malware samples sounds great in theory. One might be led to believe that this result renders anti-virus programs obsolete, however this is a erroneous belief. Malware downloads are indeed one of the most prevalent infection vectors, but they are far from the only infection source. A browser can’t protect you against the dozens of new exploits for Adobe Reader, Java, Flash and other programs that appear every month.

Certainly it does make a difference which browser you use for navigating the Internet. While Internet Explorer appears to be a safe choice, all the other browsers are definitely not according to NSSLabs.  Another point to bear in mind though is that this comparison only takes malware downloads into account when measuring browser security. The number of new critical exploits targeting the browsers themselves and how quickly the publishers react to them has not been taken into account.

This is why we strongly recommend that you use a security program with the best possible real-time protection. While on the subject,  you should definitely take a look at Emsisoft Anti-Malware.  With its three powerful layers of protection you don’t need worry about how safe your browser is, because every malware attack will be thwarted reliably.

Complete test as PDF.