One in every 14 downloads turns out to be malicious, according to Microsoft data collected from new filtering technology built into its IE9 browser software.
In a post on the IE blog on Tuesday, Microsoft SmartScreen programme manager lead Jeb Haber said that Internet Explorer blocks between two and five million attacks a day for IE8 and IE9 customers, while the SmartScreen tool has blocked more than 1.5 billion attempted malware attacks since its introduction with IE8.
Haber explained that social engineering attacks, which trick users into running malicious programs, are now far more common than attacks on software vulnerabilities.
Anecdotal evidence would certainly support this view, social networking sites in particular being targeted by cyber criminals.
The implicitly greater levels of trust which people seem to have on these sites make tricking them into clicking on malicious links and downloading malware so much easier.
It doesn't stop there, though, as blackhat search engine optimisation and the classic malicious email attachment are also popular among criminals.
To counter this trend, Haber used the blog post to show the wonder of the firm's latest enhancement to the SmartScreen tool, Application Reputation.
"IE9 uses an application's reputation to warn customers about downloads that carry a higher risk because they have not yet established a reputation. More than 50 per cent of programs lacking a reputation are new to the web on a given day," he wrote.
"On a daily basis, 25 to 70 per cent of programs that trigger an Application Reputation warning in IE9 are later confirmed as malware. Programs and publishers that have already built reputation do not show a warning."
Web users delete or decline to run malware 95 per cent of the time they get new Application Reputation warnings, according to Microsoft, so the feature is proving to be a useful tool in the fight against cyber crime.
As always, there are no silver bullets. But in the constant battle against cyber crime, browser manufacturers play an important role in protecting customers.
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