Mar 19, 2009

web browser security study - socially engineered malware

NSS Labs just released a study we did on 6 leading web browsers' ability to stop socially engineered malware attacks. We tested Safari, Chrome, IE7, IE8, Firefox and Opera. This is extremely relevant today since the majority of malware is currently being delivered via the web. Trend Micro research puts it globally at 53%, dwarfing email at just 12%. Oh how times have changed.

Read the full report here:

Also notable, this was the industry’s first live test of fresh malware sites. We pulled thousands of URLs off the web in real-time and fed them into 6 different browsers (84 unique machines) every 2 hours. A lot of work went into building this test harness and you'll certainly be hearing more about it shortly. Also keep in mind, while the highest score was Microsoft at 69%, this is nothing to sneeze at. All of the sites were extremely fresh, and the time between detection on the web and testing in the harness was between 30 minutes and 2 hours. Compare this to a VB100, ICSA, West Coast or other wild-list type test where the malware is generally 2+ months old. Our new Live Testing model yields a much more real-world assessment of anti-malware detection rates.

As far as the results, we were pleasantly surprised at just how well IE8 did. Browsers, and IE8 in particular, are becoming a viable extra layer of security on top of anti-malware/endpoint protection.

Note: NSS Labs developed the test methodology and infrastructure independently. Microsoft provided funding.