I want to know how phishing and malware protection features are implemented in modern browsers like Chrome, Firefox, IE etc. Are these features heuristic based, or do browsers maintain a list of blacklisted websites like in case of mozilla . Secondly, is there any security standard or specification the browser must be compliant with?
Safe Browsing API
Google offers Safe Browsing, which uses URL lists as well as heuristics:
Safe Browsing works in two ways to help protect you against phishing and malware. First, Google downloads a list of information to your browser about sites that may contain malicious software or engage in phishing. If the URL of the site you're on matches anything in the list, your browser will contact Google’s servers for more information to make a decision. If your computer then decides that you're visiting a risky site, it can warn you about it.
Second, Safe Browsing helps to protect you against targeted phishing attacks (sometimes called “spear phishing”), where a site may not already be known to Google so isn’t on the list of phishing sites. Chrome does this by analyzing the content on the site and warn you if it seems suspicious.
The Safe Browsing API is used by Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, but the effectiveness varies by implementation.
IE uses its own methods of protection (SmartScreen), but the process is very similar to Safe Browsing.
Effectiveness of each browser from various tests show vastly different results depending on the type of tests run.