Which web browser is the safest to use?

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For those of you that have read my newsletter for a while, you know that I have been a fan of Firefox for quite a long time – years, in fact.  And for a variety of good reasons – safety, ability to customize, speed, etc.  I remember a few years ago when the 2 big choices for web browsing were either the current version of Firefox, or Internet Explorer 6.  IE6 was so full of security holes it was laughable.

Internet Explorer 9

Things have changed since then.  The current version of Internet Explorer is version 9, and there have been some major improvements.

IE9 uses a dual approach to protecting users: SmartScreen Filter and Application Reputation.

The SmartScreen filter protects you against phishing – it detects imposter websites that are trying to get you to enter personal information (like the site that looks exactly like your online banking site).

Application Reputation uses a database of information about known executable files.  If a file is known to be safe, unnecessary warnings are eliminated.  If a file has a reputation of being malicious, additional warnings pop up so that you don’t run it.

In a recent report by NSS Labs, tests showed that IE9 blocked 92% of malware with the SmartScreen filter, and 100% of executables with Application Reputation in use.  Sadly, Firefox version 4 only blocked 13%.  The worst of the bunch was Opera 11, which only blocked 5%.

I do still use Firefox regularly.  I also use Chrome for some situations.  However, I am always very aware of where I am going and what I am downloading.  I no longer make Firefox the default browser when setting up a new computer for a client; I leave it as IE9.

IE9 does have disadvantages, though – the biggest one probably is the lack of the ad-blocking extension that is so handy with Firefox.  And something to keep in mind – IE9 is only available on Windows 7.  Earlier versions of Windows will not run it.  If you have Windows XP, the most current version of IE you can use is 8 (and you will get notifications that your browser is out of date in some places).

What browser do you prefer?  Let me know in the comments section below.


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Shawn Robinson
August 8th, 2011

Scott, thanks for the browser review. I have been a fan of Chrome for a while and my wife is a die hard Firefox user. I was wondering about Safari and whee that fell. You were right, I was surprised that Explorer was at the top. Good to know…I will use explorer more often.

August 8th, 2011

My favorite is Firefox and it has been for years as well! But its sad to know that it’s been beaten, thanks to your newsletter, I have the inside scoop on it. Going to probably use IE9 now, not going to like it as much tho.

Joan Peterson
August 8th, 2011

Darn! I had hoped to use Firefox forever. Surely they must be doing something to improve their security after this news flash. As for IE9, changing from Vista to Windows 7 is a mighty task, one which I have no desire to take on either timewise or moneywise at the moment. So I shall probably stay with Firefox until someplace or other freezes over. Thanks for the heads up anyway.