August 19, 2021

We Tried Out Edge’s New Super Duper Secure Mode

Bones Ijeoma

CEO and co-founder

Why be secure when you can be Super Duper Secure? We gave Microsoft edge's Super Duper Secure Mode a spin to see if performance would be impacted.

What’s better than being secure online? Being Super Duper Secure online.

Microsoft is testing out an experimental new feature to make their Edge web browser Super Duper Secure. The regular version of Edge is already pretty secure. But for those of us who want to maximize online cybersecurity, or if you’re just looking for additional tips to stay safe online, you may want to consider their new Super Duper Secure Mode (SDSM).

How Super Duper Secure Mode Works

97% of all websites use a programming language called JavaScript to create and control their content. Historically Javascript required browsers to first download its code and then execute it. While this helped websites have richer and more dynamic content, it also caused them to take longer to load. To help with the longer load times, modern browsers like Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge utilize something called a Just In Time (or JIT) compiler. A JIT compiler optimizes JavaScript by processing the code as it is being downloaded, which improves performance and can help a website load much faster.

Unfortunately, JIT compilers are notoriously weak spots and tend to be the most flawed parts of a browser. In fact, almost half of all known Chrome flaws are related to JIT compilers. Cybercriminals can exploit these JIT flaws to attack browsers and all the data that is transferred through them.

Microsoft Edge’s Super Duper Secure Mode (or SDSM) allows users to beef up their online security by simply disabling the JIT compilers. The trade off, of course, is that you lose the speed and performance benefits that JIT compilers normally would bring.

We Gave Super Duper Secure Mode a Spin

We decided to give Super Duper Secure Mode a spin to see how much it would impact the Edge browser’s performance. We used Basemark to test out our browser with and without Super Duper Secure Mode enabled. Basemark is a performance benchmarking tool that uses a series of system and graphics tests to see how well a browser can handle web-based applications.

We ran our tests on a Windows 10 machine using the Beta version of Edge with no browser plugins or extensions installed. We also made sure all other browser tabs and non-essential applications were closed while the tests were running.

First, we conducted our “control” test and ran the Basemark tool with SDSM off. The test took 7 minutes 30.62 seconds to complete and produced a benchmark score of 560.97.

Then we enabled Super Duper Secure Mode and ran the test again. With SDSM enabled, the test took 4 minutes, 37.29 seconds to complete and gave a score of 454.02.

The test results confirmed that having Super Duper Secure Mode on resulted in a lower overall performance score... but not by much. The biggest differences were in the Graphics Suite tests. We were surprised to see that the benchmark test completed much faster when SDSM was enabled, and this happened consistently when running the tests several times.

Browser Performance Test Results

We then used the SDSM-enabled browser to try out some of the websites and web applications that we normally use on a day-to-day basis to see how they performed. There was no noticeable delay in website performance when running our main line of business application, nor when browsing around Microsoft 365 online apps. When browsing media sites with lots of graphics, the images took a little bit longer to load. This image-loading lag was negligible (1 second or less), and we probably would not have noticed if we weren’t specifically looking for it.

How to Enable SDSM Now

If you’d like to try Super Duper Secure Mode in Edge and don’t think you’ll be bothered by (or even notice) the slight hit to performance, it’s easy to enable. Keep in mind that it is still an experimental feature and being tested by Microsoft’s research team, so it’s not fully baked and may have some bugs. Also, Super Duper Secure Mode is only available in the Beta, Dev and Canary versions of Edge.

Here’s how you can turn it on:

  1. Download and install the Beta version of Microsoft Edge, which you can download here: Microsoft Edge Insider
  2. Open Microsoft Edge Beta and go to edge://flags
  3. Search for “Super Duper Secure Mode”
  4. Use the drop down menu to Enable the flag for Super Duper Secure Mode
  5. Restart the browser
  6. Super Duper Securely enjoy the world wide web!
How to enable Microsoft Edge Super Duper Secure Mode