Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Configuring Security Settings in Internet Explorer

To configure Internet Explorer security settings that control what types of content Internet Explorer can download and use—content such as ActiveX controls, files, and fonts. Internet Explorer contains many settings designed to protect the computer and the user from security hazards when browsing the Internet. Knowing the available configuration options gives you a greater understanding of potential threats and of the methods that you can utilize to help protect
users against them.

The Security tab of the Internet Options dialog box, shown in Figure 11-8, provides a

method of controlling security based on security zones. Security zones contain a list

of websites deemed to have similar security settings requirements. You’ll be asked to

resolve problems that have to do with zone configurations; these problems will mainly

be issues regarding the inability to view or access something or to comply with company

security directives. To resolve these types of calls, you’ll need an understanding

of the default settings for each zone.

The four zones provided are as follows:

Internet Contains all websites that you have not placed in other zones.

Local Intranet Contains all websites that are on the local network. By default,

this zone includes all sites that bypass the proxy server (if a proxy server is being

used) and all local network paths. You can add additional sites to this zone by

selecting the zone and clicking Sites.

Trusted Sites Contains websites that are believed to be safe. There are no sites

in this zone by default. You can add sites to this zone as you see fit by selecting

the zone and clicking Sites.

Restricted Sites Contains websites that could potentially be harmful. There are

no sites in this zone by default. You can add sites to this zone as you see fit by

selecting the zone and clicking Sites.

Service calls involving security zones can have to do with an end user’s need to have

more (or less) access to Web content than she currently has or to place a Web site in a

specific zone and use that zone’s default security settings. You might also receive calls

to configure users’ computers to comply with a company security policy requirement

to enable or disable a specific security setting.

Although it is generally a good idea to leave each security zone set to its defaults, you

can customize the security level for each site if the default settings are not adequate for

a user. For example, some users might enjoy a more secure environment, but would

prefer that Internet Explorer give them the option of blocking content rather than

blocking the content automatically. Customize the security level of a site by selecting

the site and clicking Default Level; then drag the slider that appears to the desired security


The security levels that you can configure are as follows:

High, which is appropriate for sites that might have harmful content.

Less-secure features are disabled.

The safest way to browse, but functionality is potentially lost.

Medium, which is appropriate for most Internet sites.

Prompts before downloading potentially unsafe content.

Unsigned ActiveX controls are not downloaded.

Medium-Low, which is appropriate for local sites.

Most content is run without prompts.

Unsigned ActiveX controls are not downloaded.

Low, which is appropriate for sites that are trusted.

Minimal safeguards and warning prompts are provided.

Most content is downloaded and runs without prompts.

All ActiveX content can run.

Default security levels for each zone are as follows:

The Internet zone has a Medium security level.

The Local Intranet zone has a Medium security level.

The Trusted Sites zone has a Low security level.

The Restricted Sites zone has a High security level.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Configuring Advanced Settings in Internet Explorer

The Advanced tab of the Internet Options dialog box, allows you to configure a variety of Internet Explorer settings. The exact options that are available on this tab vary, depending on whether additional components have been installed. You can right-click any particular setting and select What’s This? to see a description of the setting.

Advanced settings are divided into categories such as Accessibility, Browsing, Multimedia, and Security. Following are some of the important advanced settings you should be aware of as a DST:

Browsing: Enable Personalized Favorites Menu When enabled, Favorites

that you have not recently accessed are hidden from view and are accessible by

clicking the down arrow at the bottom of the Favorites menu.

Browsing: Enable Third-Party Browser Extensions (requires restart) Clearing

this option disables non-Microsoft browser extensions, which can be useful when

troubleshooting computer pop-up errors and problems with Internet Explorer. Often, browser extensions can

cause Internet Explorer to crash or have problems displaying Web pages.

Browsing: Enable Visual Styles On Buttons And Controls In Web

Pages When enabled, button and control styles in Internet Explorer match those

set in Display properties.

Browsing: Notify When Downloads Complete Enabling this option causes

Internet Explorer to display a message at the end of a file download, indicating

that the download is complete.

Browsing: Show Friendly HTTP Error Messages Web servers send error messages

to browsers when problems occur. When this option is enabled, Internet

Explorer will display a detailed message outlining potential solutions for the problem.

When this option is disabled, Internet Explorer shows only the error number

and name of the error.

Browsing: Use Inline Autocomplete When this option is enabled, Internet

Explorer completes what you are typing in the address bar based on previous


Multimedia: Enable Automatic Image Resizing When this option is enabled,

Internet Explorer automatically resizes large images so that they fit in the browser


Multimedia: Play Animations In Web Pages Enabling this option allows Internet

Explorer to display animated pictures. These animations are often slow to load

and distracting. Consider clearing this option for smoother access.

Browsing: Underline Links This option controls the way Internet Explorer displays

hyperlinks. Available options are Always (links are always underlined),

Hover (links are underlined when the mouse is moved over them), or Never

(never underlines links).

Multimedia: Show Image Download Placeholders When this option is

enabled, Internet Explorer draws placeholders for images while they are downloading.

This process allows the items on the page to be properly positioned

before images are fully downloaded.

Multimedia: Show Pictures When this option is enabled, Internet Explorer

shows pictures normally. For users with slow connections, images can take a long

time to download, so you can increase perceived performance by clearing this


Printing: Print Background Colors And Images When this option is selected,

background colors and images will be printed, which can slow down printing and

affect the quality of printing (depending on the printer’s capabilities).

Security: Empty Temporary Internet Files Folder When Browser Is

Closed Enabling this option causes Internet Explorer to delete temporary Internet

files when you close Internet Explorer.

Security: Warn If Changing Between Secure And Not Secure Mode When

enabled, Internet Explorer will warn the user when switching from a secure site to

a nonsecure site. This warning can prevent the user from accidentally providing

personal information across a nonsecure connection.

Security: Warn If Forms Submitted Is Being Redirected Enabling this option causes Internet Explorer to warn the user if information entered into a form is being redirected to a website other than the one that is being viewed.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Configuring Connection Settings

The Connections tab of the Internet Options dialog box, shown in Figure 11-4, allows

you to control how Internet Explorer connects to the Internet. If the computer uses a

dial-up or virtual private network (VPN) connection to connect to the Internet, those

connections are shown in the Dial-up And Virtual Private Network Settings section.

Click Add to start the New Connection Wizard, which you use to configure networking

connections (and which you learn more about in Chapter 10, “Supporting Network

Connectivity”). When you select one of the displayed connections, you can also configure

the following options for that connection:

Never Dial A Connection Requires that you manually establish a connection

before opening Internet Explorer.

Dial Whenever A Network Connection Is Not Present Causes Internet

Explorer to use the current default connection if it detects that there is no existing

connection to the Internet.

Always Dial My Default Connection Causes Internet Explorer to always dial

the current default connection.

To configure the default connection, select a connection from the list and click Set


You can also use the Connections tab to configure proxy server settings. A proxy server

is a centralized network device that provides Internet access to the client computers on

the network. Proxy servers are used to centralize Internet connection settings, increase

security by controlling which resources a client can access, and speed up Internet

access by caching Web pages to the server. After you configure Internet Explorer to use

a proxy server, Internet Explorer requests Internet content from the proxy server,

which in turn connects to the actual Internet resource on the client’s behalf, retrieves

the information, and forwards it to the client.

To configure Internet Explorer to use a proxy server for dial-up and VPN connections,

select the connection and then click Settings. To configure Internet Explorer to use a

proxy server for local area network (LAN) connections, click LAN Settings.

Automatically Detect Settings Allows the client to automatically receive proxy

server configuration from a properly configured Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol

(DHCP) or Domain Name System (DNS) server.

User Automatic Configuration Script Specifies the path to a configuration

script containing proxy server information.

Use A Proxy Server For This Connection Allows you to enter the address of

the proxy server and the port that Internet Explorer should use to connect to the

proxy server.

Bypass Proxy Server For Local Addresses Allows the client to connect directly to an address on the local network (such as an internal company web server) instead of connecting to the proxy server.

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Monday, April 7, 2008

Managing Internet Explorer History

Internet Explorer automatically stores a list of links to pages that you have recently visited

in a folder named History. You can access the recent history by clicking the History

button on the Internet Explorer toolbar.

The History section of the General tab of the Internet Options dialog box allows you

to manage how long Internet Explorer stores recent links. Use the Days To Keep Pages

In History option to specify the number of days the history is maintained. The default

value is 20 days. Setting this value to 0 disables the History feature. Use the Clear History

button to clear the current history list.

Controlling Internet Explorer’s Appearance

The remaining options on the General tab of the Internet Options dialog box allow you

to alter the appearance of Internet Explorer and the Web pages it displays. Available

options are as follows:

Colors Allows you to manipulate the colors Internet Explorer uses on Web

pages for text, background, and hyperlinks.

Fonts Allows you to specify the font Internet Explorer uses to display text on

Web pages that do not specify a particular font.

Languages Allows you to control which language is used to display content if a

site offers more than one language.

Accessibility Allows you to control additional settings about how Internet

Explorer displays colors and fonts. In particular, you can have Internet Explorer

ignore settings that are specified by Web pages and use settings you configured.

This feature is useful for users who have configured accessibility options.

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