When browsing the net, Im safest when Im using Mozillas Firefox 3.0 browserat least after Ive tweaked it just a bit. Yup, I have absolutely no doubt about it. Ive looked at others, and Im sticking with Firefox.
But instead of just taking my word for it, lets take a closer look at why I believe this to be true. First, let me describe the contestants.
As Im principally a Mac user (Leopard 10.5.4), Im mainly concerned with Firefox and Apples own Safari browser, but Ill also compare them against Microsofts Internet Explorer (IE). I should also note there are significant other options available, not the least of which is the highly-regarded Opera browser. For now, though, Im going to stick with the top 3 in my comparison: Firefox, Safari, and IE.
As with the comparisons Ive done here of Windows vs. Linux vs. OS X security, Im going to explore various user-level differences between the browsers. I do believe, after all, that the determined tech-savvy user would be able to use any of these three browsers quite securely.
In their own ways, all three of these browsers are delivered in an overly trusting configuration. If youre serious about being secure in your Web browsing habits, its clear youll need to spend some time fine-tuning each of these products. Despite their claims of providing security features (see below), when you install these products, they make some serious mistakes.
Qualitative Score: Firefox gets a D, Safari an F, and IE a D.
Beyond that, IEs security zones are actually a pretty powerful mechanism for controlling Web content and how it interacts in the browser. Unfortunately, to really get the power from the security zones requires a learning curve that few users will be willing or able to overcome. Firefoxs safe browsing feature works in conjunction with an external site (run by Google) to blacklist various Internet sites that are thought to be harboring phishing attacks and other nasties. This is turned on by default, and most users neednt even be aware its there.
Unfortunately, its fundamentally a negative validation model that is doomed to eventual failurethink anti-virus signature updates. So this category is a tough call, since all three products are pretty awful.
Qualitative Score: Firefox gets a C, Safari a F and IE a D.