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IE 7.0, Firefox, Netscape: One browser is at The Peak of Security. We'll tell you which comes out on top.

The Web browser has evolved into one of our most important desktop applications--and an enormous security concern. Shaken by years of one critical vulnerability after another, businesses are demanding better security in the nearly ubiquitous Microsoft Internet Explorer, or taking a hard look at alternatives, such as the popular newcomer Firefox.

Browsers are responsible for everything from security application management interfaces to Internet access to our brick-and-mortar bank accounts to MP3 players. Organized criminals exploit the Web to access corporate systems and databases and steal passwords and credit card numbers from individual users.

Users have switched to the open-source Firefox in large numbers since its release in late 2004, cutting IE's market share. Driven by the perception that it's more secure--as well as having cool features like tabbed windows--Firefox has garnered an estimated 8 to 11 percent of worldwide browser use. Other browsers, such as Netscape, are barely on the radar, with less than 1 percent market penetration.

Microsoft's response, IE 7.0, which is still in beta (no release date has been announced), will be the latest major release in the company's four-year-old Trustworthy Computing initiative. One version of the browser will be released for XP SP2, and another with Microsoft's forthcoming Vista

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operating system. It embraces Redmond's secure-by-default mantra and introduces additional security controls.

So which browser takes security to new heights? Information Security put that question to the test.

This was first published in January 2006

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