Google's URL blacklist as poor as Microsoft's

Internet would be safer if the rivals integrated blacklist lists, say researchers.

Microsoft and Google should pair up their respective malware blacklists they use to protect their own browsers because as they stand they’re pretty poor, according to security researchers.

Accuvant Labs researchers, which compared the effectiveness of blacklists employed in Google's Safe Browsing List and Microsoft's SmartScreen Filter, found that both missed the majority of threats.

Out of an average of 3,096 live malware URLs Accuvant identified during a week in July, Google's blacklist matched an average of just 405 while Microsoft's matched 404.

"Based on our testing, it seems clear that no URL blacklisting service is fully comprehensive, and that any anti pattern-based defensive measure is, by definition, imperfect. As with antivirus, the question is not whether the pattern-based detection will fail, but when and how," the researchers wrote.

“We feel the only way to get the best results would be for all browser manufacturers to share their sample data,” they concluded.

The researchers’ findings were part of a Google-sponsored report that pits the security of Chrome against rivals Internet Explorer and Firefox.

The report in some way contradicts conclusions that could be drawn from an NSS Labs study earlier this year which found Internet Explorer 9's anti-malware defences were far superior to Chrome's.

Unlike that research however Accuvant excluded IE9's Application Reputation, which was the technology responsible for picking up almost every threat NSS threw at it and which its SmartScreen filter missed. Accuvant also excluded Chrome's equivalent malicious executable detection feature.

While both Chrome and IE's URL blacklisting performed poorly, Accuvant put Chrome sandboxing and plug-in security ahead of IE because they were "implemented in a more thorough and comprehensive manner".

IE and Chrome were placed ahead of Firefox, which lacked sandboxing, plug-in security and JIT (just in time) hardening according to Accuvant.

Despite partially implemented sanboxing for add-ons, this feature still posed a problem for Chrome since it lacked policy controls to prevent exploit writers undermining built-in anti-exploitation technologies such as Address Space Layout Radomisation and Data Execution Prevention.

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Tags GoogleMicrosoftbrowserblacklistsAccuvant LabsMicrosoft SmartScreen Filtermalware blacklistsGoogle Safe Browsing Listmalwareweb browsers

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