One of the key selling points of the Microsoft Edge browser its protection against phishing attacks. Microsoft Edge is already the best browser to use to block phishing attacks, with tests conducted by NSS Labs showing Edge to be capable of blocking 99% of phishing and social engineering-based malware attacks. Its closest competitor, Google Chrome, only blocked 87% of attacks, while Firefox blocked just 70%. Both of those browsers leverage Google’s Safe Browsing API, which while offering good protection from web-based attacks, is inferior to Microsoft’s technology.
The plugin, named Windows Defender Browser Protection (WDBP), is being offered free of charge to users of Chrome. The plugin can be used on MacOS and Windows and will also soon be made available for the ChromeOS. As with its own Edge browser, users will benefit from Microsoft’s SmartScreen technology. Microsoft maintains a list of URLs known to host malware or be used for phishing. When users attempt to visit one of those URLs, either directly, through a redirect, or after clicking a link in a phishing email, users will receive a warning to make them aware that the website is malicious.
It is a bold move to offer Windows Defender for Chrome as by doing so Chrome users will be given the same level of protection as users of Edge, and Microsoft will lose its competitive advantage. However, the sheer volume of phishing URLs now being created and the substantial threat of financial loss and malware infections, Microsoft clearly felt there was little alternative. End users will certainly benefit, but this is not an altruistic move by Microsoft.
Relatively few end users have adopted Microsoft Edge for use with Windows 10. Edge and IE combined are used by just 18% of end users, and that limits the amount of telemetry data Microsoft can gather, which is a limiting factor for its SmartScreen technology.
By offering WDBP for free to Chrome users, the volume of telemetry data Microsoft can collect will be significantly increased. With 60% of end users opting for the Chrome browser, Microsoft will have access to the threats that each of those users encounters. That data can then be fed into Office 365 Exchange. That will ensure its platform users will be better protected which should help lure more enterprise customers away from Google’s G Suite.