Incident Response, TDR

Study: Among top browsers, IE catches most socially engineered attacks


Among the top web browsers, Internet Explorer did the best job in defending users against malware delivered by socially engineered ruses, a recent study found.

NSS Labs released its “Evolutions in Browser Security” report on Monday, comparing the security performance of IE, Firefox, Safari and Chrome.

Through its 2013 browser test, the research firm revealed that IE blocked 89 percent of phishing sites hosting malware and socially engineered malware (SEM), defined by NSS as an attack that deceives users into downloading and installing malicious software, such a spurious programs found online like rogue antivirus.

Following next in performance was Google's Chrome browser, which caught 76 percent of SEM attacks and phishing email ruses leading to infected sites. Apple's Safari blocked 53 percent of the attacks, performing slightly better than Mozilla's browser, Firefox, which stopped 52 percent of attacks.

The report also said that, while IE outperformed other browsers, education was the “great equalizer” in defense against socially engineered attacks.

“By definition, these are social problems and technology has rarely solved a social problem,” the report said. “Technology can help to mitigate problems, but education is paramount.”

The report went on to advise that “for users who are adept at identifying social engineering attacks, the browser adds little additional security; however, most users are not aware of the dynamics of socially engineering and will fall prey to SEM even when they are able to identify many types of phishing attacks.”

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