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Internet Explorer 9 Security - Continues to Excel


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#31
Amst3rDamag3

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OK Digerati,
In the first place, I want to thank you for the history lessons.
I REALLY appreciate your thorough reply. As I stated before, I did read this (and many other) thread from start to finish, it's highly interesting & very educational...
Just to please you, I did it again... :unsure:


I totally agree that the bad guys are the bad guys, and not you, me, MS, IE or even DonnaB.
It's plain common sense that as a company, MS can only benefit of fighting & destroying malware.
Nobody can look into the future, and at the time, who knew Messenger could be used for evil marketing??? (Well somebody did, obviously)
I am NOT a software-writer, I cannot enter a discussion on coding-safety, and that is not my intention. I am not saying IE is a piece of <you insert something here> either.
And I must admit I forgot all about that funky Windows Defender. I still believe SP3 is a little bit late though, as many of the problems were known such a long time earlier.
I do however, disagree to you saying XP firewall is descent or even good, as it only monitors outgoing traffic, to name one. (I know me & my big mouth are getting into trouble now..., but hey Posted Image)
(Also, does XP still support DOS operated applications??? I thought that about ended with 95...)


But that is not my point at all..., not even close.
My biggest (only real) problem with the IEs I know, are the incredible hard-to-understand security settings for "untrained" users, especially people who don't speak English fluently. And that's where Little Mrs. Congeniality comes in as well:

Yes the end-user is ALWAYS going to be the weakest link...!!!
I really enjoy working to make Windows work the way I like it to, but I can imagine other people just want to surf, mail and enjoy themselves, in stead of constantly worrying about their safety. It's one of the reasons I'm in GeekU in the first place....
And there's my whole point, I honestly believe that MS, and the IE team in particular could have made far more work of ensuring their customers were safe in the past decade. Maybe not by an active application, as you stated that would have been the end to MS by law, but rather by enforcing strict (ask user SIMPLE questions) settings, and by explaining them, like many other browsers already did at the time....

To finalize, I am wondering about 2 things:
  • Is IE9 simple nowadays, or does it still consist out of "a bunch of technical terms" placed in sub-menus of an inconspicuous menu?
  • More importantly, what should we advice other people here on GeeksToGo!tm regarding safe-surfing? Aren't we promoting FF & Chrome in most "you are clean" messages? Is it safe for me to say I prefer Chrome for its simplicity? (equals awareness, equals "safety")


Maybe I should put it like this: Not everybody is such an awesome TECH as you are Digerati Posted Image



(EDIT: Changed 1 word. Thank you Sari, for pointing that funny mistake out to me :))

Edited by Amst3rDamag3, 19 August 2011 - 07:12 AM.

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#32
Digerati

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I still believe SP3 is a little bit late though

Huh? Sorry, but you just illustrated your biases :unsure: and a lack of understanding of the true facts. That's not meant as a criticism, just an observation and I applaud you for asking questions and discussing it. For, sadly, many misconceptions abound, even among experts (who cannot be experts in all things IT).

This thread is about IE - IE9 specifically, not the antiquated XP, or older versions of IE. But clearly, you are holding your prejudices with MS and XP against IE. :yes: You need to let go of the past. Windows 7 is not XP. And XP has nothing to do with (and does not support) IE9.
  • SP3 came out more than 3 years ago. More than a year AFTER Vista was released. XP has been superseded twice and you still are complaining about a 2-generation old OS. IE6 was released 10 years ago! And 3 generations back - but you are using XP and IE6 to rationalize your current position on HUGELY UPDATED AND REVISED products. :)
  • XP SP3 was very much like Windows 7 SP1, that is, it was 95% a "roll-up" of all the previous updates. If you had kept your system updated to that point, SP3 made very few changes - although some were significant.

My biggest (only real) problem with the IEs I know, are the incredible hard-to-understand security settings for "untrained" users, especially people who don't speak English fluently.

That just illustrates a lack of familiarity with a product! It is human nature to be more comfortable with something we have become familiar with. Everything has a learning curve. If you were a regular user of IE, FF would seem unfamiliar. But more importantly, you seem to forget the vast majority of users are "untrained" and tend to leave what they don't know alone! And funny thing, have no problems! If you are untrained, you should NOT be dinking with your security settings. The defaults work just fine! But, if you don't understand a setting, Google is your friend.

I do however, disagree to you saying XP firewall is descent or even good, as it only monitors outgoing traffic, to name one

Well, sadly, you obviously believed the bashings and falsehoods of the biased IT media, and the misinformation expertly spewed by the marketing weenies for ZoneAlarm and Norton products.

In order for there to be a need to protect from unauthorized outbound access attempts, the malicious code would have to make it all the way past your entire security defenses on the way in! How could malicious code do that unless you, the user, failed to practice safe computing by not keeping your systems patched, updated, scanned and blocked???

That means the incoming firewall, hopefully a router, and the anti-malware solution all FAILED to block the malicious code on the way in. How is that possible? Why are they not getting your blame? Well, because, sadly, you obviously believed ZoneAlarm's marketing hype and the fear mongering of the MS bashers.

The malicious code would then have to sit on your computer, totally undetected for days, weeks, or even months! until activated. And then when activated, remain undetected while it does its dirty deed. And that's a outbound firewall failing? I don't think so! Again, why not blame the anti-malware solution?

And finally, the vast majority of malicious code attempts to exploit "exposed" and known* vulnerabilities. How are they exposed? By NOT keeping the systems patched and updated!

So you cannot blame Windows Firewall for failing to catch something THE USER and anti-malware solution clearly FAILED to protect against. That's just wrong. And a moot point anyway. Because Microsoft listened and catered to those complaining and starting with Vista, Windows Firewall has been two-way.

I really enjoy working to make Windows work the way I like it to, but I can imagine other people just want to surf, mail and enjoy themselves, in stead of constantly worrying about their safety.

And surprisingly (not!), Windows 7, IE9, and Windows Firewall, at their default settings, allow them to do just that. Do NOT be unjustly swayed by what you see in the trenches. I mentioned the Honda mechanic swamped by broken down Hondas. Same for Windows users. There are nearly 1 billion of them out there - the vast majority are running at default settings without problems.

Aren't we promoting FF & Chrome in most "you are clean" messages?

We better not be! I provided 5-years of proof showing that would be a mistake and so it surely would be doing our readers a disservice. If that is the case, that needs to be changed. You cannot use security as an excuse to not use IE9. And you cannot use security as justification to use an alternative. Choosing a browser today is simply a matter of personal preference for the look and feel. It is not about which is better, faster, or more secure.

* Yes, there are zero day exploits where a previously unknown vulnerability is exploited by brand new malware. BUT - how do you get infected by a zero day exploit? By participating in risky practices where badguys are known to launch their new malicious code - risky practices like illegal filesharing via torrents and P2P sites, and visiting illegal porn and gambling sites, or using pirated software. If you, the user, let the badguy in the door, the best and most current security system might as well be turned off.

Maybe I should put it like this: Not everybody is such an awesome TECH as you are Digerati

:) Ah shucks! Thanks, but you actually illustrate my point. You don't have to be a tech to remain safe. It is just like driving a car - if you keep your car properly maintained, you drive defensively, and you avoid risky practices, you will likely never get into an accident. But should an accident find you, your well maintained car will likely protect you. However, if you participate in risky practices and you visit the wrong parts of town where the badguys wallow, you increase your chances of getting into some serious trouble - regardless what you are driving.

Not to sound sarcastic but what gets my goat are the repeat offenders. They get infected, you spend valuable time cleansing them (well, I don't yet), you teach them and give them the tools to learn to prevent safe surfing practices and they come back blaming it on the world not them selves. I've seen this many times here at GTG and elsewhere.

That's not sarcasm, that's just a sad fact. And many sites refuse to keep wasting time on them after the second time.
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#33
Amst3rDamag3

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@ little Ms. Congeniality:
My post should have said something like "And there's where I totally agree with DonnaB" or something -> sorry-> translation bug... :yes:




 
@ Digerati:

Learning...learning...
...data saved...
... analyzing...
THANK YOU! :)


Well.. I run Win7 in my office, but that is maintained/secured professionally, I only "use" it. I am staying away from the admin-part as much as possible, it's not needed anyway.
XP is out-dated, but a lot of users still use it, including me to browse, mail and visit GeeksToGo!tm.
Everything is up to date, I appreciate you mention that, it's one of the prime "stay out of trouble" rules.


It is just like driving a car - if you keep your car properly maintained, you drive defensively, and you avoid risky practices, you will likely never get into an accident.

-What can I say.., I'm a biker :)


On the GeeksToGo!tm-advice: Could I ask you to visit to THIS topic on the GTG main page? Or THIS one in the GTG How-To-Guides?
There not new, but the authors both clearly mention that it is advisable to install another -safer- browser...
Note: I am the first to point out that the advice on installing another -safer- browser clearly comes from SpySentinal and not from The Original Article by Tony Klein
Also, a number of -widely respected- financial institutes I work with, advise FF or Chrome, even in Win7.

I know I have a lot to learn and I will do that first...


To be continued, someday.., somewhere... :unsure:


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#34
Digerati

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Yeah, those tutorials need updating. I will address that to the staff. Thanks.
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#35
DonnaB

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As posted by Digerati:
Yeah, those tutorials need updating. I will address that to the staff. Thanks.


See below for my individual opinion.

As posted by Amst3rDamag3 in post #31:
My biggest (only real) problem with the IEs I know, are the incredible hard-to-understand security settings for "untrained" users, especially people who don't speak English fluently. And that's where Little Mrs. Congeniality comes in as well:


Yes, this is where I come in.

While researching, I came across the following by Gammo at the Malwarebytes Forum and in his closing speech at the bottom of the post I linked to he states:

As posted by Gammo; 19 December 2010:
Use a safer web browser

Internet Explorer is not the most secure tool for browsing the web. It has been known to be very susceptible to infection, and there are a couple good free alternatives: Firefox and Opera . Both are excellent faster, safer, more powerful and functional free alternatives to Internet Explorer. It's definitely worth the short period of adjustment to start using one of these. If you wish to continue using Internet Explorer, it would be a good idea to follow the tutorial here which will help you to make IE much safer.


Even though he is encouraging the user to install a safer browser, he is also giving the choice to continue with IE and a link on how to make IE a safer browser to use if they choose to use it. I like that. Many untrained users don't realize there are options for other browsers out there. Some, the older generation, don't like change. For the untrained user or those who don't like change, going through that tutorial that he linked to could be found to be a very tedious task and could be found to be overwhelming for them.

I feel that those who designed IE forgot to realize that the majority of users are not at their experience level of computing. But, that is my opinion.

As posted by Amst3rDamag3:
@ little Ms. Congeniality:
My post should have said something like "And there's where I totally agree with DonnaB" or something -> sorry-> translation bug... :)


I was not offended by your choice of words. I was afraid that I offended you by choosing to quote the statement made by Digerati as I had in post #30. I've always believed that it is the one in control of the input and their browsing habits, and yes, MS hasn't made it easy for the untrained user to learn how to use IE safely. What it boils down to education on safe computing and the lack of simplicity for a generation who is being forced into the computer age (such as myself).

Phew! With that said...back to learning so I can help to educate the untrained user.
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#36
Digerati

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For the record, the tutorials on this site are being reworked and will no longer discourage the use of IE.

Also note that Bleeping Computer guide linked to above to make IE safer was written 6 years ago and deals with XP SP2. So, I would not pay attention to that tutorial either.
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#37
DonnaB

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Good eye, Digerati! I should have mentioned that the tutorial was outdated. My mistake. Sorry. :)

I made "here" clickable in my quote above to add emphasis on just what the untrained had to endure to make IE a safer browser.

My actual point was, even though Gammo gave the user choices in browser to use, he did point out that IE is a safe browser and did not dissuade those who like it from using it. I've never seen that before and thought that was very commendable of him to do so.
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#38
Digerati

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Yeah, more and more sites are coming back around to look at their browser recommendations. Better late than never, I suppose.
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#39
Digerati

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Note the Q3 NSS Labs Report is out - NSS Labs Q3 2011. IE9 continues to whomp on the alternatives at blocking social engineered malware.

Also a good read for it's explanation of social engineering is Ed Bott's Report, IE9 versus Chrome: which one blocks malware better?

Of special interest to me was his closing comment about the commitment Microsoft has made (in terms of money and people resources),

This kind of improvement isn’t just a matter of clever code. It takes a tremendous investment in back-end services and a huge commitment of resources—people and money—to do the necessary analysis. This is one feature that other browser makers—especially Google—desperately need to copy.


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#40
Amst3rDamag3

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Pwn2Own 2011: Google offering $20,000 for Chrome sandbox exploit

Hacker (Peter Vreugdenhil) exploits IE8 on Windows 7 to win Pwn2Own

pwn2own day one: Safari, IE8 fall, Chrome unchallenged


I am going to wait for pwn2own 2012 Posted Image
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#41
Digerati

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Not sure your point. I sure hope you are NOT saying pwn2own is a reliable source. I just went round and round on another site about this with a Mod there who insisted Chrome was the most secure browser and he cited the pwn2own contest as his only source, claiming it was his "bellwether" on browser security. :) Big mistake!

Do your research. I did and Pwn2own is a contest! A game! An exhibition! A prepared competition using one specially prepared exploit in a controlled environment! A game to test hacker skills. It is NOT, in ANY way, designed to test and evaluate browser security.

PLEASE! Do NOT base your security decisions on the results of a game! And do not base your security decisions on the results of just one source either. I provided links to several "reliable", independent sources.

Here's another. I recommend anyone interested in security to sign up for the US Government's CERTS Vulnerability Bulletins. I note in this Aug 1, 2011, US-CERTS Report Chrome had 14 High (the highest rating) vulnerabilities reported that one week! If you go back through the archive, you will see Firefox leads (in a bad way), by far. Chrome is much better than FF, but IE 8 and 9 have had much fewer than Chrome.

Independent sources are important as the independence removes even the appearance of bias and impropriety.

Note NSS Labs state in their report (their bold italics)

4.4 ABOUT THIS TEST
This report was produced as part of NSS Labs’ independent testing information services. Leading vendors were invited to participate fully at no cost, and NSS Labs received no vendor funding to produce this report.

Ed Bott has a long established career of unbiased reporting, and the US Government does not take advertisement, promotion, or hush (I hope! :unsure:) money from the vendors. These actions are to avoid even the "appearance" of impropriety. The promoters of pwn2own, TippingPoint DVLabs, on the other hand, may have good intentions, but by their own admission, have "partnered with Google"! And that, "certainly makes me question the validity of any data" out of that contest.

The "contest" is cool! But it's like watching a basketball dunking contest - fun to watch the pros "play", but that's not the same as after the buzzer and there's defenders in your face, ribs and knees blocking your every move.

To learn about pwn2own, the results, as well as the unwelcomed (which gives me hope for the organizers) fanboy journalism/sensationalizing, and "meme" reporting over this contest, read this: Pwn2own considered (somewhat) harmful. Make sure you also scroll down through the comments and note what the game organizers responding have to say too. I note the following key points:

..."The formula of the contest boils down to this: once a year, a single, secretly developed exploit is exchanged for a substantial amount of money."...

..."It takes days or weeks to find and exploit a vulnerability, and Pwn2own is no exception: the actual exploits are prepared months or weeks in advance,"...

You can use the results of the sometimes chance related availability of exploits for a target platform a somewhat litmus test of overall security, but it's very hard to draw definitive conclusions.

The purpose of Pwn2Own is not about which browser is more secure than it's peers. The point of Pwn2Own has always been to entice those who are able to actually exploit these vulnerabilities to come to Vancouver to show off their techniques.

...this doesn't actually help draw any high-level conclusions about browser security...


After the pwn2own contest organizer states it, "doesn't actually help draw any high-level conclusions about browser security", I have to ask, "is it wise to use this contest as an "indicator" of browser security?" Not for me.
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#42
Amst3rDamag3

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Do your research. I did and Pwn2own is a contest! A game! An exhibition! A prepared competition using one specially prepared exploit in a controlled environment! A game to test hacker skills. It is NOT, in ANY way, designed to test and evaluate browser security.

PLEASE! Do NOT base your security decisions on the results of a game! And do not base your security decisions on the results of just one source either. I provided links to several "reliable", independent sources.


I actually did my research and fully agree Pwn2own is a "hype"
I also will point out the articles are about IE8, not 9.
Then there is the fact these contests are cracking contests, and not real world infection tests.

Still, I'm going to wait with telling people to stick with IE.
Also, -not linking here, numbers are too unreliable everywhere- recent polls suggest Chrome now actually has the largest user base, mainly in Europe and Asia.
I care about consumer safety, and know that Chrome is easy to defend and set up. I am still curious about the menu-structure of IE9, I will see for myself tomorrow.
And it's great news that IE9 is such an improvement in comparison to older versions, as discussed earlier and I have learned a lot from / by this single topic.


Thanks for all explanations Digerati :)



EDIT: grammar :unsure:

Edited by Amst3rDamag3, 26 August 2011 - 01:44 PM.

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#43
Digerati

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Still, I'm going to wait with telling people to stick with IE.

What? So you mean you are going to tell them to switch? To what?

Considering Windows comes with IE, what are you going to do, if you are not going to tell them to keep it?

But to that, why? The browser of choice is not important. What is important is users keep their systems patched, updated, scanned and blocked - the same thing you must do, regardless your browser of choice.

In my opinion, we have no business telling posters what browser to use any more than we have any business telling them which color car they should get next.

And we certainly cannot imply that IE8/IE9 or any of the leading alternatives browser are "unsafe", for that is simply not true.

Also, -not linking here, numbers are too unreliable everywhere- recent polls suggest

:) No!!!!! Post supporting evidence or don't make wild claims! That's a cop-out. I don't expect anyone to accept what I say, simply because I say so - so I post links to support what I say. You are not special either! What polls?

Chrome now actually has the largest user base

No it doesn't. It holds a distant 2nd to IE in the UK, as shown here.

And throughout the world, it holds a distant 3rd.

http://marketshare.h...re.aspx?qprid=1
http://www.networkwo...rome-usage.html
http://www.zdnet.com...atcounter/40015
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#44
Amst3rDamag3

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Considering Windows comes with IE, what are you going to do, if you are not going to tell them to keep it?

GeekU: I need a sound "Your log is clean" note. For XP I am going to give the user a choice between (alphabetical order) Chrome (+add-ons), a "making IE safer tutorial by tony klein" and FF (+add-ons)
This does -obviously- not mean un-installing IE, just having an alternative.




What polls?

You are right about providing information to underline facts (statements), here are some:
- Usage of OS, updated for July 2011: http://www.w3schools...browsers_os.asp (note the rank 1120 worldwide on the WOT page)
- Usage of Browser, updated for July 2011: http://www.w3schools...wsers_stats.asp (idem)

As for your links:
networkworld.com - Thank you for the (indirect) statcounter link. You make a good point with that.
zdnet.com - please, October 5, 2010, 5:19am PDT = completely irrelevant. I consider zdnet to be biased, at least some of the publishers there. If you would look at the article index by browser, you will find only good news is mentioned for IE, in conradiction for the other ones, espescially Chrome and FF.

And when I start commenting...

Note the Q3 NSS Labs Report is out - NSS Labs Q3 2011. IE9 continues to whomp on the alternatives at blocking social engineered malware.

  • Good test, lack of information. I have searched and searched, but could not determine which settings are used, even "as is after install" is not mentioned as far as I am aware of.
  • I could find this, and I do not agree with the method, as IE gets additional screens and other browsers don't get add-ons, which can make huge differences, even more when reading this in that same report:

NSS Labs performed a test of web browser protection against socially-engineered malware targeting users around the globe


...and...

Windows Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) caught an exceptional 99.2% of live threats: 96% with the SmartScreen URL reputation and an additional 3.2% with Application Reputation. URL Reputation, which is included in IE8, and Application Reputation, which is new to IE9, are the two components that make up IE9's SmartScreen Filter. IE9 with SmartScreen offers the best protection of any browser against socially engineered malware. Protection against malware matched our previous findings from the Q2 2011 European test and Q3 2010 global test as well as the Q3 2011 Asia-Pacific test.


Google Chrome 12 caught 13.2% of the live threats, considerably more than the 3% observed during the Q3 2010 global test. This improvement tracks to an enhancement in SafeBrowsing so that, according to Google, "Chrome now warns you before downloading some types of malicious files"


Apple Safari 5 caught 7.6% of the live threats. Protection offered was near identical to that of Firefox.


Mozilla Firefox 4 caught 7.6% of the live threats, far fewer than Internet Explorer 9. Results were 11.4% less than the 19% protection rate observed in our Q3 2010
global test, indicating an overall drop in protection for Firefox.


Opera 11 caught 6.1% of the live threats, providing considerably less protection against socially-engineered malware than the other browsers tested.

  • Thorough may be, but not complete. Socially engineered malware is only one of the many dangers out there. Also, I am at Google Chrome 13 at the moment.

My conclusion: I will provide people with choices according to their OS, and will study the Vista-7 / IE9 combination carefully before doing so.


Again, :unsure: this thread! :)


EDIT: last quote optimized for reading

Edited by Amst3rDamag3, 26 August 2011 - 03:45 PM.

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#45
Digerati

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My conclusion: I will provide people with choices according to their OS

And that's fine, as long as you don't use security to dissuade users from using one or the other. Security is no excuse to push folks away from IE or any other browser. With little effort, we can find reports where Firefox is the most secure and the same for Safari, or probably just about any browser you can find. And they are all right - no browser is perfect!

It just proves it does not matter which browser you use, or which version of Windows. You, STILL have to practice safe computing! You still have to use the latest browser your OS supports, you must keep Windows updated, your firewall up, and your anti-malware solution running, and don't be click happy.

We, as advisors, cannot tell someone to buy a Honda because we don't like Nissan!

You say you don't like the testing methodology - you are not alone. But note EVERY "loser" of any study will find fault in the study. So you need to see who lines up where, and what may influence their decision.

CNet
http://my.opera.com/.../07/20/nss-labs

There are many support sites with no connection to any browser maker that reported on the NSS Labs report too. It seems to me, if the testing was flawed, somebody would be reporting it. I also note NSS Labs makes it clear, malware distributed via social engineering is what they are testing, and that is one area IE8 and 9 obviously excels at. But note it is not just NSS Labs and Microsoft that are worried about malware distribution through social engineering.

Are you saying Ed Bott is wrong too? Just because Ed Bott now writes for ZDNet, that does not mean he is going to pull any punches. He praises when due too, and Microsoft puts out good software - especially in the last couple years. I agree there have been some questionable calls out of some writers at ZDNet - I challenged their review of MailWasher. I challenged PCWorld's MS bashing headlines too. Do you want reports and sites that only report what you agree with?

It serves Microsoft no purpose to be associated with an organization that would "fix" the testing in some way. Microsoft's business practices are under too much constant scrutiny by Congress, the EU, bloggers, IT press and bashers to even think about it.

Telling people our opinions is fine, but we have to be objective first, if our advice is to be sound.

Just remember, if Windows and IE were unsafe at their default settings, there would be 100s of millions of infected machines out there. And there just isn't.

You also must remember why this is an endless argument? Because they are all safe (assuming safe computing practices). If any truly were not, they would be history.

My whole point in starting this thread was to draw out and expose these deep long-seated biases against Internet Explorer (and perhaps MS) as what they are - unfounded.

Also - there a good reason the alternatives are gaining in Europe and Asian countries - there, you can buy Windows 7 without a browser. That said, this thread is not about browser popularity.
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