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Group test: which web browser is most secure?

Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera and IE tested

All of the most popular browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, have different security advantages and shortcomings. We've put them through rigorous tests, to find out which is best for you.

When it comes to the most secure browsers, there are a number of different opinions out there. The recent out-of-schedule emergency patches for Internet Explorer that Microsoft has rolled-out have had some pundits recommending any browser but IE as the best security defence.

Although there is some safety in using less frequently attacked software, a better question is which is the safest choice among the most popular browsers? What are the most important security features to look for in a browser, and what are the weaknesses to beware?

This review focuses on security features of the following Windows-based internet browsers: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Opera Software's Opera and Apple's Safari. All but Chrome are included because they rank among the most popular browsers, with long track records and millions of users.

Google Chrome is included because it boasts a unique security model and the wide expectation to significantly eat into the other browsers' market share. The latest publicly available versions (including beta versions) have been used in the review. Each browser has been tested on Windows XP Pro SP3 and Windows Vista Enterprise.

The purpose of this review was to test each browser's security fitness. As such, these reviews generally do not cover any new features not related to security. Also, since this review was focused on testing the security of each particular browser, all browsers were tested with the default vendor-installed add-ons only.

For example, although NoScript is a popular Firefox browser add-on often installed to enhance security, it isn't installed by default and isn't created by the vendor, so it wasn't included in the review.

Full disclosure: the author of this article is employed full-time by Microsoft as a security architect. He has no involvement in the development or marketing of Internet Explorer. He uses multiple browsers across several OS platforms on a daily basis and has several favorites, including browsers not included in this review.

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NEXT PAGE: Making a secure browser

  1. We put Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera and IE through their paces
  2. Making a secure browser
  3. How to measure the security of a browser
  4. Vulnerability announcements and attacks
  5. The most secure browser
  6. Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox
  7. IE8, Opera and Safari

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