Microsoft slams rivals for browser security add-ons

Microsoft thinks other browsers need to have add-ons to compete with its new browser on security

Microsoft says other browsers are too reliant on add-ons to get the same level of security as its new Internet Explorer 8 browser.

Rivals have been quick to have a pop at IE8, not least Opera who claimed it is "dangerous" for the internet.

But Microsoft's new security whitepaper, designed to extol the virtues of its new browser, doesn't miss the chance to have a go at some of Microsoft's rivals in the browser wars.

"Other browsers (such as Firefox or Safari) require you to download and configure third-party add-ons to get this level of protection [from malware, phishing and emerging threats], but with Internet Explorer 8 you get it right out of the box, and turned on by default," it says.

But, unsurprisingly, Microsoft stresses that security is right at the top of its agenda. "Some of the protection we offer is visible to you – helping you avoid fraudulent content and sites – and some works behind the scenes… We've packed Internet Explorer 8 with more industry-leading features that help keep you safer online."

"It's also the only web browser available today that offers free, 24-hour telephone support for viruses and safety issues."

We can't imagine Mozilla or Apple being too happy about such comments.

Filtering malware

Microsoft says it has improved numerous security features in IE8. The SmartScreen filter adds protection from malware by presenting you with a warning or blocking screen when you visit a malicious site or attempt to download a malicious file.

The corporation claims it is blocking 10 times more attempts by cybercriminals to install malware. "At least one in every 200 downloads is a privacy or security risk that we are protecting users from with the SmartScreen filter in Internet Explorer 8. This protection does not exist for previous versions. In addition, our research has shown that you don't get this level of protection from malicious downloads from other browsers."

Working alongside Windows Defender, the SmartScreen filter is a set of technologies that are "URL reputation-based," which means that it evaluates the web addresses of servers hosting downloads and potential phishing sites to determine if those sites are known to distribute malicious programs or steal personal information.

According to the whitepaper it "leverages advanced intelligence and our community of hundreds of millions of users who report suspicious sites to evaluate millions of web addresses every day to find the most recent and relevant attack sites."


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Dan (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Former Deputy Editor and is now in charge at our sister site Covering all things computing, internet and mobile he's a seasoned regular at major tech shows such as CES, IFA and Mobile World Congress. Dan has also been a tech expert for many outlets including BBC Radio 4, 5Live and the World Service, The Sun and ITV News.