If you were asked to rate browsers according to security, what order would you put them? Well, a study by Accuvant Labs rated Google Chrome first, with Microsoft Internet Explorer second and Firefox pulling up third. According to ZDNet, the study focused on a few key areas directly related to browser security, including the integration of sandboxing, plug-in security, JIT hardening, ASLR, DEP, GS and URL blacklisting.
But is the study trustworthy? It turns out that the Accuvant Labs study was commissioned by Google. Chrome does have its strengths, but you do have to wonder if everything is on the up and up. Alan Shimel made a comment on his blog at Network World that addressed that concern:
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This is the problem with most product reviews, awards and analyst reports that we see today. Many are sponsored by vendors and providers mentioned in the research, many are flat out for sale and you don’t know what effect personal relationships have in the outcome. When you peel the onion back a few layers, too many of them are just not objective enough and they seem to be slanted one way or another.
That’s a good point. A lot of the studies that are sent to my inbox or that I read about online are sponsored by vendors. Does that make the study any less valid? My problem with the result has more to do with other news about Chrome — although the newest version has some cool features, like the ability to handle multiple user profiles — regarding concerns about privacy. Google admits that this new version isn’t designed to secure data.
So, on one hand, a study touts Chrome as the most secure browser, but on the other hand, Google says its newest version isn’t good at protecting user data. On top of that, Google had to release patches for 15 vulnerabilities.
I realize that all browsers are going to have some security issues. I also admit that I have a browser I like to use for general Web use, but I use a different browser for sensitive data. Most of us are going to choose our browser because of what we are used to or because we like the overall look and feel of one browser over the others. The bottom line: To have some sense of security, users need to be on top of updates and patches. That’s the absolute key to browser safety. Chrome may reign as the secure browser champ today, but will it still be on top in the next survey? I guess it will depend on who is asking.