Mozilla: Firefox antiphishing tool better than IE 7's

Mozilla says a study finds Firefox being better than IE 7 at blocking phishing sites in response to Microsoft's claims to the contrary.

Mozilla fired a shot back at Microsoft in the browser war's latest battle this week, using a company-sponsored study to claim the antiphishing filter in Firefox 2 more accurately flags potential phishing attacks than the one in Internet Explorer 7.

The move comes after Microsoft in late September released its own data based on tests by an independent research group claiming IE 7's phishing filter is superior to competitive offerings, including those from Mozilla, McAfee and Earthlink.

Mozilla tapped independent consulting firm SmartWare to test the effectiveness of Firefox 2's Phishing Protection feature, the company said. According to Mozilla, SmartWare's testing found that Firefox's antiphishing feature is "more effective" than IE 7's.

Out of a total of 1,040 sites, Firefox blocked 820 sites when running in local mode, with 78.85 percent accuracy, the study found. Local mode checks a list of known phishing URLs (uniform resource locators) stored locally in the browser. When running through Ask Google, which can check URL phishing site lists that are updated online, Firefox 2 blocked 848 sites, for 81.54 percent accuracy.

When running in a mode with the antiphishing filter's auto-check turned off, IE 7 blocked 16 phishing sites for 1.54 percent accuracy, according to Mozilla's study. With auto-check turned on, IE 7 blocked 690 sites, with 66.35 percent accuracy.

Further, there were 243 instances where Firefox blocked sites and IE did not, and 117 instances where IE blocked sites, but Firefox did not, the study found. There were 65 instances where neither browser's antiphishing filter blocked phishing URLs.

The comparison tests between Firefox 2 and IE 7 were conducted over two weeks, from Oct. 19 to Nov. 11, using phishing URLs from a service called PhishTank via its public XML (Extensible Markup Language) feed of phishing URLs. PhishTank is a service that allows community participants to submit and verify phishing URLs. For the test, the feed was downloaded once per hour, and any new phishing URLs found were added to the testing database.

The browsers were running on Windows XP machines, Mozilla said.

An overview of Mozilla's tests can be found here.

Microsoft's own analysis of how IE 7's antiphishing filter stacks up against Mozilla and others was published on the company's IE 7 team blog for the product. Microsoft used 3 Sharp to conduct its study.

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