A Mozilla-commissioned study has given the antifraud features in the Firefox 2 browser high marks, finding they are much more effective than those in Internet Explorer 7.
The study, commissioned by Firefox maker Mozilla and carried out by SmartWare, comes on the heels of a Microsoft-commissioned study that found just the opposite—concluding that IE 7 led the pack.
The SmartWare study, released on Tuesday, used 1,040 phishing sites as verified by the PhishTank community-powered antiphishing service. It found that Firefox 2’s blacklist feature blocked about 79 percent of the sites, while IE 7’s whitelist-based Auto Check OFF blocked 16 of the sites, less than 2 percent.
The study also compared Firefox 2’s Ask Google feature, which checks sites against a Google-provided list of phishing sites, with IE 7’s Auto Check ON, finding that the Firefox feature blocked 848 of the sites compared with 690 for IE 7.
SmartWare noted that there were large gaps in which sites were blocked, with 243 cases where Firefox blocked a site but IE didn’t, and 117 cases where IE blocked a site that was given the all-clear by Firefox.
The browsers were tested over a period of two weeks using a custom Web application tied into PhishTank’s XML feed of scam URLs.
Last month’s Microsoft-funded study measured things quite differently, generating an “accuracy” score based on detection rates as well as other factors such as false positives and the effectiveness of the action taken when a site is flagged.
In that study, IE 7 ended up with a score of 172, just slightly ahead Netcraft’s toolbar, which scored 168. Firefox was a distant third with 106, followed by eBay with 92, Earthlink ScamBlocker with 76, GeoTrust Trustwatch with 67, Netscape 8.1 with 56, and McAfee SiteAdvisor well behind in last place with a score of 3.
-Matthew Broersma, Techworld.com (London)
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