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How To Browse Securely With Internet Explorer

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Internet Explorer is one of the oldest browsers currently available for Windows based computers. The browser commanded upto 95% browser market share in the early 21st century but with the emergence of mobile platforms and browsers like Chrome and Firefox, its market share has declined significantly (less than 30% according to reliable estimates). In this article, we will discuss how you can make your browsing experience more secure through Internet Explorer.

1) InPrivate Browsing

When you browse the internet, most browsers keep a track of sites that you visit and download webpages for faster loading. However, you can prevent Internet Explorer from doing so by using the InPrivate Browsing mode. When you activate the InPrivate mode (through a new browsing window or by pressing Ctrl+Shift+P at the same time), Internet Explorer stops collecting your browsing history, search history, cookies, form data, temporary files as well as usernames and passwords and keeps your browsing, shopping and social networking activities safe when you are using shared computers. However, it must be kept in mind that InPrivate Browsing does not protect your online activities from being monitored by ISPs and network administrators. If you need total anonymity and privacy on the internet then you need to subscribe to a privacy solution such as a Virtual Private Network.

2) Enable Tracking Protection

Apart from using the InPrivate mode, you can also enable the tracking protection feature to keep your online activities from being tracked by third party tracking and analytic companies. While tracking does have its advantages, it is used by many marketing companies and websites to deliver targeted advertisements to web users. The worst part of web based tracking is that third parties get access to your browsing history and they are free to share and sell it to advertisers. The tracking protection feature can be disabled/enabled from the Tools -> Tracking Protection menu.

3) Filter ActiveX Controls

ActiveX controls are used by many websites to play videos and animations, view files with certain extensions etc. but they can also be exploited by hackers and malicious programs for security attacks. Internet Explorer makes it easy to disable ActiveX Controls or enable them only for certain websites through the Tools menu.

4) Enabled SmartScreen

SmartScreen is a relatively new feature that protects you from dangerous websites and files. The feature was introduced in Internet Explorer 8 and it is enabled by default. When the SmartScreen feature is enabled, IE will show a warning message whenever you visit a phishing website or try to download a potentially unsafe file.

5) Adjust Security Levels

Internet Explorer makes it easy to define security levels (Low to High) for Internet, local Intranet, Trusted Sites and Restricted sites. You are also free to define exceptions and add a specific website as a trusted or restricted site. You can verify the security levels by opening the Tools -> Options window and adjust them as per your needs.

6) Add-ons

Add-ons are third party plugins that extend the functionality of Internet Explorer. You should only install trusted add-ons from reputed sources and regularly check for add-on updates to remain safe from security attacks targeted towards such plugins.

7) Keep your version of Windows and IE up-to-date

It goes beyond saying that you must update your OS and browser from time-to-time to remain safe from the latest security attacks. Microsoft releases security fixes and patches for Windows and IE from time to time so make sure to check for updates and install them as and when they become available. In addition, you should use a reliable and anti-virus program to prevent viruses, malwares, spywares and Trojans from compromising your browsing activities.

July 17, 2014

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