Internet Explorer Malware Protection

Internet Explorer 8 has several new features specifically designed to increase security. First, tab isolation means that if a website or add-on crashes in Internet Explorer, only the current tab is affected: the browser remains stable and other tabs are unaffected. Internet Explorer also includes crash recovery, which automatically reloads all open tabs and restores connections to their respective sites.

Internet Explorer 8 adds an InPrivate feature to browsing, accessed by selecting Safety, InPrivate Browsing on the command bar. This opens a browser session that records no information, including searches or web page visits. Likewise, InPrivate Filtering turns off any website's capability to track and record your online activities. Deletion of browsing history has been enhanced to preserve or remove cookies and temporary Internet files as you see fit.

Internet Explorer 8 also adds improved techniques to protect you online. The SmartScreen Filter checks a database of dangerous or questionable websites and warns you if you attempt to visit one It will also warn you if you attempt to download software that is potentially unsafe.

In addition, Internet Explorer 8 includes a cross-site scripting (XSS) filter that can detect malicious code running on compromised websites, to protect you from unwanted information disclosure, cookie theft, account or identity theft, and so on. This new filter stops most such attacks as soon as they begin. Internet Explorer 8 also turns DEP on by default.

^ For a discussion of more security enhancements in Internet Explorer, see "Phishing (Fishing) for Information,"p. 945.

Avoiding Malware

Taking a minimalist approach to installing software on your computer goes a long way toward avoiding malware. It also saves space, avoids bogging down your PC, and can make the computer simpler and easier to use. That doesn't mean you must forego all the software gadgetry that makes computers useful and fun, but it does require a more judicious attitude on installing software. As with many areas in life, when it comes to installing software from the Internet, installing a CD purchased at the dollar store, or downloading content from a peer-to-peer program, less is more.

Whenever seemingly innocuous software is installed, be it a toolbar, cute purple gorilla, weather program, or anything at all, you are potentially transferring full ownership of your computer to somebody else. One would expect that before such a transition of ownership, the previous owner would ceremoniously sign a title or perform some similar ritual, but clicking OK is usually all it takes.

The best way to prevent an unintentional computer donation is to follow this rule: N EVER install software from a source you don't trust. Once installed, malware can and will take major liberties with your computer. Malware writers go to amazingly creative and destructive lengths to achieve their goals—whether to profit by directing you to ads, theft of personal information, or worse. If your computer gets infected with malware and runs slowly, it might be busy doing lots of work in the background on someone else's behalf. Computer criminals have been known to control an army of thousands, or more than a million, compromised computers and then extort money from online businesses by threatening to use their army of "zombies" to barrage a commercial website, shutting it down for hours or days. It's a credible threat.

You'll find many long lists of things you can to do avoid malware and keep your computer from becoming a zombie. Here are three essential things to remember to protect your Windows 7 computer:

• Install an antivirus program with real-time protection.

• Keep all elements under the Security heading in Action Center set to On.

• Only install software from sources you trust.

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