We're always hearing that Internet Explorer is insecure, that you should switch to Firefox or Chrome or "anything else" if you want to be safe. Some folks have been parroting that line for years, and don't even bother to keep up with the security advances that Microsoft has made in recent iterations of the web browser.
Now, just in time for this year's RSA Conference, NSS Labs has released a study that finds IE 8 to provide the best protection against social engineering malware, stopping far more of this type of malicious attack than Firefox, Chrome, Safari or Opera. Some are sure to question the results because Microsoft funded the study, but the detailed methodology is available. In any event, the numbers are interesting - and no one can deny that each subsequent version of IE has contained more and more security mechanisms.
It's not hard to find one study or another that "proves" one of the other browsers is the most secure. However, one claim that you can put stock in is that IE 8 is more secure than older versions of IE - especially the much maligned IE 6. When it comes to comparing the different products made by different companies, two things to keep in mind are:
- No browser is absolutely secure; all have vulnerabilities, and
- The latest versions of all of the major browsers offer pretty good security - especially in comparison to older versions
Regardless of which browser experience you prefer, the most important things are to keep the browser updated and to practice safe surfing habits.