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Securing your browser: Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer 11Your internet browser is the program on your computer that lets you access the internet. If you open Google, Gmail or any other website, you’re using a web browser.

Internet Explorer is one of the most famous browsers (although no longer the most used) because it has historically been bundled with Microsoft Windows computers, which account for 90% of the PC market.

Through different versions, Internet Explorer has been considered both the most and least secure web browser. While the latest version is generally considered as safe as other browsers – like Google’s Chrome and Apple’s Safari – older versions are best avoided.

If you’re unsure which version of Internet Explorer you’re running, open the program, click “Help” in the toolbar at the top and choose “About Internet Explorer”. You should upgrade if you’re running anything below version 10.

Securing IE: fixing ActiveX

If you’re running an old version of Internet Explorer (and an older version of Windows), it will probably have insecure ActiveX settings. ActiveX is a technology used by IE and Windows to allow websites to access parts of your computer. This gives websites additional features, but it also opens them up to vulnerabilities.

It takes just a few steps to make ActiveX more secure:

•    Open Internet Explorer
•    Click the “Tools” option in the toolbar
•    Click “Internet Options”
•    Choose the “Security” tab
•    Make sure that “Internet” is selected from the box “Select a zone to view or change security settings”
•    Drag the slider to “High”
•    Click “Apply”

Congratulations – you’ve now moved Internet Explorer into ultra-safe mode.

Securing IE: advanced chances

Have you ever noticed your browser getting filled up with extra toolbars that appear as if by magic? These toolbars shrink your window size, slow down your browsing and report what sites you’re visiting to their masters – some of whom are criminals.

These toolbars are known as third-party extensions, and there’s an easy way to prevent them from running:

•    Open Internet Explorer
•    Click the “Tools” option in the toolbar
•    Click “Internet Options”
•    Choose the “Advanced” tab
•    Look through the long list for “Allow third-party extensions”
•    Untick the box

That’s it – you’ve now prohibited Internet Explorer from installing any more third-party extensions. Toolbars – and many other third-party extensions that you can’t see – will now be a thing of the past.

Of course, you might want to use third-party extensions on Internet Explorer, but it’s best to avoid it if you can – or use a more modern browser.

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