ActiveX controls are small programs that run inside the browser window to enhance the functionality of a website. They're used for such things as enabling you to play games with other internet users, displaying stock tickers, and displaying animation. Microsoft's various update sites use ActiveX controls to compare installed patches and updates on your system with those available on Microsoft's servers . ActiveX controls contain binary code and, like executables that you run from the Start menu or a command line, they have full access to your computer's resources, although they are subject to some security restrictions .
You cannot download an ActiveX control, scan it for viruses, and install it separately ActiveX controls must be installed on the fly. Although the inability to scan for viruses in advance might sound like a security risk, you're protected from known viruses if you've configured your antivirus software to perform real-time scanning for hostile code. If the ActiveX control contains the signature of a known virus or worm or engages in suspicious behavior, the antivirus software will intercept it and refuse to allow the installation to proceed. As with any program you download and install, of course, you need to exercise caution and ensure that the download is safe before allowing it on your computer.
Some businesses refuse to allow the use of any ActiveX control that is not approved by an administrator. Others disallow all ActiveX controls . If you need to tighten the security
settings imposed on ActiveX controls in the Internet zone, choose Internet Options from the Tools menu in Internet Explorer. On the Security tab, click Internet, and then click Custom Level. Then adjust options under the heading ActiveX Controls And Plug-Ins .
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