Test Center guide to browser security
Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, and Safari have different security advantages and shortcomings. More important than the browser you choose, however, is how you maintain and use it.Follow @rogeragrimes
The recent out-of-band emergency patch for Internet Explorer has many pundits recommending any browser but IE as the best security defense. 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.