You are, certainly, going to need an edge (pun intended) to win the battle of the search browsers.


When it comes to safety, no doubt, all three of the search browsers whether that be Microsoft Edge browser, Google’s Chrome or Mozilla Firefox are really impressive in tackling malware and unwanted spam that you might get every now and then. However, you and I both know that of the three search browser giants really only one has what it takes to come at the top.


So, I have laid it all down for you based on a number of research, published papers, and countless tests done with Microsoft Edge browser, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox to find out which of the three has what it takes to best handle your everyday online activity whilst without ignoring the importance of  your safety.





Let the battle begin


NSS Labs, a US-based independent network, and security testing organisation, did a few tests to see whether which of the three search browsers, Microsoft Edge browser, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox prove to be the better out of the three and the most secure.


They did it by performing two sets of tests: one for detecting socially-engineered malware (SEM) and one for detecting phishing attacks. 



They made sure to..


NSS Labs carefully carried out these tests by subjecting each of the three search browser to the same malicious URL and tested if the three search browsers detected any malicious activity and how much time it took them to check off the link as dangerous. Another factor NSS Labs also made sure to keep fixed was the time bracket that these tests were carried out, which were as follows:


The first test ran for 14 days (from September 26 to October 9) while the second for 12 days (from October 1 to October 12).


Before they went through with it, they did make sure that they used the latest versions of the search browser of  Microsoft Edge browser, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox (Google Chrome 53.0.2785, Mozilla Firefox 48.0.2, and Microsoft Edge 38.14393.0.0, all running on Windows 10 Enterprise version 1607).





First Test: Socially Engineered Malware (SEM)


During the socially-engineered malware (SEM) tests, NSS Labs tested how browser built-in defenses, such as Microsoft’s SmartScreen and Google’s Safe Browsing API (also used in Firefox), reacted to cleverly designed web pages that used popups or fake notifications that lured users into downloading applications such as fake Adobe Flash Players, Windows updates, and fake system optimization toolkits.



Edge detected more malicious threats than Google or Firefox


The tests showed that Microsoft’s Edge was able to find 99% of all the threats that were NSS Labs testers thrown at it.


Chrome came in by detecting 85.8% of all the malicious links whilst Firefox came in third place with 78.3%



Microsoft Edge browser
Average Block Rate for SEM




Edge’s Smartscreen outsmarts Google Safe Browsing API


Much to the success of Edge manage to block entirely every malicious threat thrown at it is thanks to its SmartScreen URL Filtering and SmartScreen Application Reputation (App Rep).


Microsoft has been developing these technology for decades now, and it seems now it has come to perfect use by perfectly  carrying out its tasks with a near perfect success rate.





Microsoft has the Edge on Zero Hour Protection

When in comparison to  Google’s Safe Browsing API (Also used in Firefox), Microsoft’s Edge outperformed it on zero hour protection by handling new threats, which occur for the first time,  with ease.


Edge showed a 98.7% detection rate for never-before-seen malware that could otherwise harm Your PC in many unexpected ways.


Chrome detected only 92.8%, whilst Firefox only at a measly 78.3%.



Microsoft Edge browser
SEM URL Zero-Hour Protection Response




More Edge, Less Time


What’s interesting is that, it took far less time for Edge to detect these infectious malware, as Edge only took about 10 minutes to detect new malware threats. Whilst Chrome needed 2 hours and 39 minutes and Firefox needing 3 hours and 45 minutes.



Microsoft Edge browser
Average Time to Block SEM Threats






Second Test: Detecting phishing attacks


NSS Labs took an entirely different set of tests to see which search browser detected phishing attacks the best.


For these tests, NSS Labs  researchers subjected phishing URLs to each browser every six hours until the browser picked up on the malicious link, at which point, researchers introduced new links in the tests.




Back at it again Microsoft, with the cutting edge


Microsoft’s edge came in at the top yet again after catching 91.4% of all phishing links during the 12-day test. 


Second to that came Chrome with a 82.4% detection rate and Firefox third, after detecting 81.4% of all the URLs.



Microsoft Edge browser
Average Block Rate for Phishing Sites




Again the interesting thing to see was that Edge managed to complete the task in just 56.4minutes (Putting aside the phishing URLs that went undetected), whilst both the Chrome and Firefox took over an hour to identify phishing URLs.



Microsoft Edge browser
Average Time to Block Phishing Threats





So what is this Smartscreen that I keep hearing about? 


Microsoft’s Smartscreen works kind of like a phishing filter and is the result of some of those bright red pages that you might see whenever you’re on Edge. (yep, those red pages are the result of Smartscreen)


 Microsoft Edge browser




What Smartscreen does is, check web pages and applications against lists of known good and bad items.


Since you already know the tests that had been carried out by NSS Labs essentially found that when it comes to malware and phishing pages, Microsoft has better lists when it came with Smartscreen.


More on Smartscreen here.





Edge’s other Edge-ier features


1. Sandboxing 

What in the world is Sandboxing? I know, I had the same confused feeling as you do right now.. and it has nothing to do with playing with sand in a box. 


Sandboxing is simply a way to break each individual component of the browser, say for instance components like the tabs, bookmarks, windows or plugins into individual processes. 


What this does is that, these individual processes are prohibited from interacting with each other or with any other outside processes which is pretty helpful in the sense that it makes it much difficult for malicious code to spread across your computer like wildfire.


If you still find my geeky explanation somewhat still hard to understand here’s a video on Sandboxing. 🙂






There are other perks to Sandboxing as well. Splitting the browser into several single processes helps with the performance of your device, however it does tend to lead to higher RAM usage.


Microsoft’s Edge is at the top of the pinnacle when it comes to Sandboxing alongside Google, but Firefox is a newbie in this area which certainly doesn’t make the cut as Edge or Google.



2. Automatic Updates


Microsoft Edge browser



Do you ever wonder why your browser updates so often? 


Well that’s the handy work of the developers who are constantly patching to fix security flaws.


And yes, in order for you to stay protected you would need to install the updates to stay protected. This is where automatic Updates come into play by helping ensure that you stay up to date with the latest protected versions of the browser.


Google does really great when it comes to these automatic Updates as they are installed quickly and quietly when users close the web browser.


Firefox also does a great job as it introduced a similar silent updates feature way back in 2012.


But what about Microsoft Edge browser?



Aaah and this is where Edge takes a toll

You see, when in comparison with both Google and Firefox, Edge comes short when it comes to automatic Updates.


Don’t get me wrong, Edge does updates automatically as well, although those patches are delivered through Windows Update. 


Now how does that affect Edge’s automatic Updates?


Here’s how. Windows updates generally come at a slower rate than Chrome or Firefox’s browser-only updates, and you must restart your computer for Microsoft Edge’s updates to take effect. 


However, this shouldn’t be the deciding factor whether you choose a particular browser and besides that, Microsoft is working on providing updates in a more seamless way by delivering some Edge updates through the Windows Store, which will help ensure Edge users stay up to date.




3.  Privacy protection


Microsoft Edge browser



All three of the browsers have some sort of a privacy mode. For instance, InPrivate on Edge, Incognito on Chrome, and Private Browsing on Firefox.

The way it works is when the privacy window is closed, all your search history, cookies and cached data will all be automatically removed leaving nothing behind on your computer. However, this doesn’t stop websites or advertisers from tracking you. 



Firefox is the browser for the people, made by the people.

Now why did I say that? I’ll tell you exactly, here’s why.


I’m sure you have heard of a browser called Tor. The one which you can use to access the Dark Web? 


Here’s a fun fact, the Tor browser uses Firefox’s source code and quite often adds new privacy and security features to help protect the anonymity of its users.


Some of the source code includes such as when in 2015, Firefox introduced Tracking Protection, which removes known tracking elements from pages visited in Private Browsing.


Another thing you should also know is that since it uses the same code base, it’s possible to port changes back from TOR to Firefox. 


The TOR browser has one of the strongest anonymity technology out there, where even the NSA and FBI have a hard time finding you. Since TOR is based on Firefox’s source code, you can tell how strong Firefox really is when it comes to privacy protection.


Tor and Firefox both had a project called the “uplift” program, where the two teams started working closely together in 2016. 


First Party Isolation is the first anti-tracking feature brought from Tor to Firefox, with more in the pipeline.


Unlike Google and Microsoft, Firefox does not make money from tracking users or selling targeted ads. 


The larger companies are incentivized not to improve your privacy.



You can follow up on these articles I wrote on data breaching by these larger companies and government agencies if you want to know the severity of these cases that happen today.








The question that has been in your mind from the very start of this article

So tell me Jake, which of the search browsers is the BEST?


Now this is completely my perspective, which I encourage if you ever want to disagree with my perspective 🙂 



Here’s how I would put it..


Right now, if you have read all the above extensive research and tests carried out, you’ll find that both Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge browser have very similar security features.


The claim that Microsoft Edge browser is “safer” than Google Chrome merely comes from the fact that Microsoft keeps a better list of bad websites than Chrome ever does, though if you’re protecting yourself well with antivirus and anti-malware software, you are going to be pretty safe.


Mozilla Firefox, on the other hand, is a little tad behind the race when compared to the other both Microsoft Edge browser and Google Chrome, but Firefox is certainly on track to catch up in 2017. 


What I can say based on all of this research is that, Mozilla Firefox is better at protecting your privacy and never breaches your data unlike the other two so it has its own advantages.


So I would have to say I would go with Mozilla Firefox, as it is a browser that is well built, protects your privacy and at the same are one of the few search browsers out there who doesn’t track you and sell your online information to other companies. They consistently have always been in the game and they’re like an underdog that will soon write their own greatest underdog story like David and Goliath.





Please feel free to disagree with me, I would love to hear your ideas and opinions 🙂