updated 8/16/2011 6:18:43 PM ET 2011-08-16T22:18:43

When it comes to detecting malware attacks, Windows Internet Explorer 9 is the Web browser to beat, according to a test conducted by the network security firm NSS Labs.

With the help of its Application Reputation feature, IE9 caught 99.2 percent of Web-based attacks during the test, placing the Microsoft browser above its four main competitors: Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Google Chrome and Opera, the security firm Kaspersky Lab reported.

In fact, the race wasn't even close: after IE9's impressive detection score, Chrome placed second with a decidedly lower score of 13.2 percent. Firefox came in third at 7.6 percent, and Opera detected only 6.1 percent of threats.

[Is Internet Explorer 9 Now the Safest Web Browser]

In the test, which took place from May 27 through June 10, 2011, NSS presented each browser with 1,188 potentially corrupt URLs, and tasked the browsers with identifying which ones were rigged with " socially engineered malware."

NSS Labs identified this type of malware as "a Web page link that directly leads to a download that delivers a malicious payload whose content type would lead to execution, or more generally a website known to host malware links."

NSS Labs also tested how long it took each browser to block malicious URLs after they appeared on the Internet. In this category, IE9 again won, catching 99 percent of new URLs in the first hour they were added to the pile of corrupt websites. Safari fared the worst, catching 6.4 percent of the bad sites within the first hour.

"The significance of Microsoft's new application reputation technology cannot be overstated," NSS Labs wrote. "This new capability helps users discern malware, and potentially unsafe software from actual good software."

Whatever Web browser you use, it's critical that you keep your computer outfitted with up-to-date anti-virus software. A comprehensive list of anti-virus options can be found here.

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