Web and Email

The Web makes our world simultaneously bigger and smaller; it’s hard to imagine computing—or even a meal—without a web browser within reach. It’s also hard to forget everything that comes along for the ride, such as pop ups, spam, and the constant reminders that “your privacy may be at risk.”

Lock Down Internet Explorer

Over the years, Microsoft has fixed hundreds of security holes in Internet Explorer, and if you’ve been using the Windows Update feature regularly, you already have the benefit of all their sweat and tears sitting on your hard disk. But the larger issue is IE’s underlying design—and its cozy connection with the underlying operating system—that has caused so much trouble all these years.

The premise is that a web page can contain code that instructs Internet Explorer to install software on your PC. In the early days, web designers used this capability sparingly, mostly to install widgets and small helper programs to add trivial features to their pages. But it didn’t take long for unscrupulous hackers and greedy corporate executives to learn how to exploit Internet Explorer’s open-door nature, which is why we now have spyware, adware, browser hijackers, rootkits, and other nasty surprises.

Microsoft finally addressed many of Internet Explorer’s unfortunate shortcomings in IE8, which comes with Windows 7, and not a moment too soon. But just because IE now looks for signed code and has a list of malicious websites at its disposal, doesn’t mean it can’t still ...

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