Chrome vs. Firefox vs. IE: Which Update Wins the Privacy Wars?

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After numerous stories of our trusted sites sharing our precious, precious information with third parties, web security has become a major concern for most users. Yes, you can opt out of everything, but does that really keep you safe?

In response to user’s concerns, Google Chrome 10, Mozilla Firefox 4 and Internet Explorer 9 recently updated their security features. Herewith, a list of the new additions:

Google Chrome 10

Congrats to Google Chrome: The web browser went unhacked at PWN2OWN for the third consecutive year. And when it was discovered that Chrome’s webkit is the same that was used for the latest Blackberry hack, Google almost immediately released an update that fixes the Windows, Mac, Linux and Chrome Frame for IE. They’ve been consistently reliable when it comes to your web privacy, as evidenced by some of the privacy goodies in Google Chrome 10.

- The Sandbox has been extended to include the integrated Flash player.

- Chrome Sync, which shares your auto fill, browsing history, passwords, etc. across browsers, can now be encrypted with a passcode.

- The web browser has updated malware reporting.

- Out-of-date versions of plugins are automatically disabled to prevent hacking.

Firefox 4

Firefox 4 joined Google Chrome for the first time as one of the survivors of PWN2OWN. The browser adds a host of features – represented by a smattering of acronyms – that provide a level of protection never been seen before in Firefox. To wit:

- HSTS: In simple terms, Firefox will turn all the HTTP sites you designate to HTTPS. Mozilla discovered that the easiest way to get someone’s information was through non-encrypted login pages. This way, you can opt into turning that page into an HTTPS page even if the company has neglected to do so.

- CSP: Firefox will now block any malicious scripts from running. (You can whitelist certain pages and companies.)

-  Visited links change to a different color, which is knowledge a hacker can use to see which companies and services you use. While the links will stay the same to the user’s eye, the CSS has been tweaked so someone looking at your browser history cannot see which links were visited.

- Users can now opt to be added to a “Do Not Track” list. While companies are not legally obligated to follow the request, it does make the user’s preferences known.

Internet Explorer 9

Microsoft focused on stopping unwanted tracking and updating security features, including additional ways to protect yourself from downloading that much-feared malware.

-  Active X can be filtered and used only on the sites you trust.

- The browser installs updates automatically, which can also be done manually if you choose.

- Tracking Protection is a new feature that allows users to decide what data they want to share. Consumers can add themselves to a Tracking Protection List if they do not want to be tracked. These lists are published by partners including PrivacyChoice, TRUSTe, Abine and Adblock Plus and tells companies which users do not want to be followed.

- The download manager has integrated SmartScreen malware protection. It uses reputation data to remove annoying warnings from files that have been downloaded multiple times with no problems and puts warnings on items that have a higher risk of being malware. According to the press release, IE 9 blocked 99 percent of engineered malware attacks, five times more than Firefox and 33 times more than Chrome.

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