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Firefox 3 vs. Internet Explorer 8: Which Browser Has Better Security?

written by: Greg Brian•edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 1/27/2010

The battle over Firefox or Internet Explorer being the most useful or safest browser goes on ad infinitum. It probably will as long as computers and browsers exist. Since both are equal in bookmarking and toolbar capabilities, security is where the true distinguishing quality exists between the two.

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    Browser Security Concerns

    There isn’t an argument that Internet Explorer gets the most attention, mostly because IE is automatically included on all Windows operating systems. Firefox earned its reputation by word of mouth, ease of use and self-proclaimed better security. Internet Explorer, though, still tries to get over the emerging Firefox specter by improving its security features. Is Firefox better than Internet Explorer when it comes to security? These points will help you decide.

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    Security on Firefox 3.5.7

    We might as well admit that no place is safe on the internet, including all browsers. As much as Firefox claims they are the safest browser to use, their growing stature may eventually change the ballgame. At one time, Internet Explorer was the most vulnerable to malware creators based squarely on the Microsoft name and more users. Now that Firefox is starting to cut into IE’s dominance by being preinstalled on operating systems, Firefox users will eventually be more vulnerable to malware threats.

    Firefox’s security settings are much simpler than Internet Explorer where you can set JavaScript restrictions from all websites in a few easy steps. The only problem here is that you cannot customize for specific websites. Nevertheless, a NoScript plug-in can be used on every Firefox browser that allows scripts to run on specific websites you already trust and turning off script for websites you don’t trust.

    A blacklisting capability is also available on recent versions of Firefox that prevents you from visiting sites that are deemed dangerous in the internet community. Firefox puts a warning up on your screen when you run across a site that is deemed a phishing threat. It comes with a bypass option that may be an annoyance if you are sure that the site was mislabeled as dangerous.

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    Security on Internet Explorer 8

    Compared to Firefox, Internet Explorer gives you the works in giving security that is more detailed. For a first time or busy user, it might be too much to learn and a user may ditch it for the simpler approach at Firefox. However, IE’s ability to block only sites you want blocked and tweaking degrees of security helps for better time web surfing without security interruptions.

    Try their Zones feature where you can set up those specific sites you want and do not want. Activating their SmartScreen feature also helps in blocking phishing sites by using the same warning on screen as Firefox uses.

    IE also has useful security features such as a Cross Site Scripting Filter to prevent malicious tampered email addresses in emails. There is also a click-jack prevention feature that disables malicious links on other sites. Data Execution Prevention prevents dangerous codes from viruses getting into your computer’s memory. Then there is the newer In-Private viewing option to block other people from viewing private emails or passwords on public internet terminals.

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    Final Verdict

    So, is Firefox better than Internet Explorer when it comes to security? IE wins with security, though only slightly and based on the ability to surf without interruption - if you are willing to learn the myriad security features. Firefox is virtually equal in safety. However, it will be with probable security setting interruptions while online for the sake of more consolidated security features.

    Reference: eSecurity Planet