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By Clare O’Gara
Fri | Oct 18, 2019 | 7:09 AM PDT

On the list of popular internet browsers, Firefox is not the number one choice.

The top spots are typically reserved for Chrome, Internet Explorer, and even Safari.

But when it comes to privacy and cybersecurity, new research suggests that Firefox is definitely at the top.

The German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) tested Mozilla Firefox 68 (ESR), Google Chrome 76, Microsoft Internet Explorer 11, and Microsoft Edge 44 to determine the most secure browser.

And Firefox was crowned the only winner.

ZDNet explains that Firefox met all of BSI's browser requirements, as listed below:

  • Must support TLS
  • Must have a list of trusted certificates; must support extended validation (EV) certificates
  • Must verify loaded certificates against a Certification Revocation List (CRL) or an Online Certificate Status Protocol (OCSP)
  • The browser must use icons or color highlights to show when communications to a remote server is encrypted or in plaintext. Connections to remote websites running on expired certificates must be allowed only after specific user approval.
  • Must support HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) (RFC 6797)
  • Must support Same Origin Policy (SOP); must support Content Security Policy (CSP) 2.0
  • Must support Sub-Resource Integrity (SRI)
  • Must support automatic updates; must support a separate update mechanism for crucial browser components and extensions
  • Browser updates must be signed and verifiable.
  • Browser's password manager must store passwords in an encrypted form. Access to the browser's built-in password vault must be allowed only after the user has entered a master password.
  • Users must be able to delete passwords from the browser's password manager.
  • Users must be able to block or delete cookie files. Users must be able to block or delete autocomplete history.
  • Users must be able to block or delete browsing history.
  • Organization admins must be able to configure or block browsers from sending telemetry/usage data. Browsers must support a mechanism to check for harmful content/URLs.
  • Browsers should let organizations run locally-stored URL blacklists.
  • Must support a settings section where users can enable/disable plugins, extensions, or JavaScript. Browsers must be able to import centrally-created configuration settings, ideal for wide-scale enterprise deployments.
  • Must allow admins to disable cloud-based profile synchronization features
  • Must run after its initialization with minimal rights in the operating system. Must support sandboxing. All browser components must be isolated from each other and the operating system. Communication between the isolated components may only take place via defined interfaces. Direct access to resources of isolated components must not be possible.
  • Web pages need to be isolated from each other, ideally in the form of stand-alone processes. Thread-level isolation is also allowed.
  • Browsers must be coded using programming languages that support stack and heap memory protections. Browser vendor must provide security updates no longer than 21 days after the public disclosure of a security flaw. If the primary browser vendor fails to provide a security update, organizations must move to a new browser.
  • Browsers must use OS memory protections like Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) or Data Execution Prevention (DEP). Organization administrators must be able to regulate or block the installation of unsanctioned add-ons/extensions.