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Internet Explorer's Security Zones - Part 4

Internet Explorer's Security Zones, Part 4 of 4

Internet Explorer provides the ability to divide the Internet into zones, so that you can assign a Web site to a zone with a security level of your choosing. This week, in the fourth and (mercifully) final segment of this semi-compelling series, we'll take a look at the Internet Zone, but first a quick recap:

Adjusting Security Zone settings in Internet Explorer is accomplished through its Internet Options window. From within Internet Explorer, click Tools > Internet Options > Security tab. At the top of the Security tab under "Select a Web content zone to specify its security settings," is a box displaying icons for the four security zones: Internet, Local Intranet, Trusted Sites, Restricted Sites. This week, let's select "Internet."

Internet Zone

This is your general surfing zone and is your first line of defense against those who would try to harm your system by installing parasite or other Web-based gremlins. The trick here is to the have the security settings high enough so you're protected from problematic "bug" installations, but low enough so you're still are able to obtain information from any given Web site.

Following the steps outlined in Part 2 of this series, select the Internet zone on the Security tab of IE's Internet Options. Set the slider to the Med (Medium) level. (Note: If the slider bar is not visible, click the Default Level button to display it.) The Medium setting will not stop all parasites, so we will need to do a little tweaking to provide that level of protection. Ready to tweak? Excellent! (Note: You'll find all four parts of this series in my Web site library. A link is provided below.)

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Select the Custom Level button. This will display the individual security settings for that level. These settings are grouped into security sections and the level for a setting is shown by a dot in a circle next to the selection for that setting. The Medium level setting makes most of the default settings for you, but it's a good idea to change a few of the settings for better protection. What follow are my suggested settings for several specific items. (For additional information about each setting, click the question mark (?) button in the upper right-hand corner, then move to any item under Settings and click again. A tool-tip type box will appear.)

Under ActiveX Controls and Plug-ins:
Run ActiveX controls and plug-ins: Disable
Script ActiveX controls marked safe for scripting: Disable

Under Miscellaneous:
Display mixed content: Enable
Installation of desktop items: Disable
Submit non-encrypted form data: Enable

When you have completed making any changes to your settings, click OK > Apply > OK to save your selections and exit.

The End Result

As a result of changing your IE security settings, you may see pop-up warnings that a page won't display properly with your current settings and your mouse pointer may snap to the OK box. One click will make the warning disappear, permitting the page to display. On many sites, the enhancements that these security settings are blocking are used to display advertisements, so you're really not missing much, but you can always readjust the settings to your personal tastes.

When you do have a page where an area on a page is empty (due to your security settings blocking something that would otherwise appear), if you feel that the site is a reputable site that can be trusted, you can simply add that page to your "Trusted Sites" list, as discussed in Part 2 of this series, and click the Refresh button to view the page in all its radiant, informational splendor.

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