Decisions, decisions. For Europeans, their first-run experience on their new Windows 7 computers is now supplemented with an extra ballot screen, asking new users to pick a default browser. The move, spearheaded by an agreement between Microsoft and the European Commission, began two years ago and has contributed to a slow drop of Internet Explorer usage across all versions of the browser.
In the meantime, the latest "best security practices" guide from the German Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik (Federal Office for Information Security) offers Google Chrome as a suggested browser for German Windows users. The browser - which also has its own ballot screen for search engines - was cited for having the strongest sandbox implementation, in addition to its automatic updating capabilities, in an extract translated on the Chrome blog (via The Verge):
The browser is the central component for using any online service on the Web and therefore is the most critical attack surface for cyber attacks. Therefore, if possible, you should use a browser with sandbox technology. The browser that currently most consistently implements this protection is Google Chrome (https://www.google.com/chrome). Comparable mechanisms implemented in other browsers are either weaker, or non-existent. By using Google Chrome, in addition to the other mechanisms we mentioned, you can significantly reduce the risk of a successful IT attack.
Equally positive is the auto-update functionality of Google Chrome, which includes a bundled version of the Adobe Flash Player. By bundling it with Chrome, the Adobe Flash Player will also always be kept up to date.
While this endorsement might be used as ammunition in the ongoing browser wars, the rest of the guide offers a list of recommendations backed by techies alike on Neowin's forums and abroad. Suggested antivirus suites are Microsoft Security Essentials, Avira Free, and avast! free antivirus. The Windows 7 firewall was also cited as being sufficient enough to ward off intrusion attempts. And of course, the oft-repeated reminder to keep software such as Adobe Reader, the Java Runtime Environment, and the operating system itself up-to-date.