Internet Explorer 8: Five Security Features for Enterprise Users

Microsoft's browser reputation has seen better days and Firefox continues to gain market share. But Internet Explorer 8, rumored to be final later this month, sports five new security features that Microsoft hopes will keep business users safer and more productive. Here's a look inside.

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Mon, March 09, 2009

CIO — Over the past year, Internet Explorer has lost market share while browsers such as Mozilla's Firefox, Apple's Safari and even the nascent Google browser Chrome have made incremental gains.

Microsoft hopes to return IE to its past glory with Internet Explorer 8, which has been in release candidate since late January and has received praise for its security as well as criticism for being a memory hog.

Microsoft is not saying when it will call the IE8 code done and release IE8 to manufacturing. But TechARP.com, a Web site that correctly named the RTM dates for Windows editions in the past, is predicting it will happen this month.

New security and privacy features in Internet Explorer 8.

As more business applications go online, the security of browsers has become a top priority for IT managers and the debate lingers on about which browser is safer: IE or Firefox.

Mike Nash, VP of Windows product management, recently discussed the new security and privacy features in IE8 that Microsoft hopes will keep business users productive and safe from hackers.

Automatic Crash Recovery

Everybody has had to deal with a crashing browser, resulting in lost data and a reboot.

Microsoft promises that Internet Explorer 8 has been architected so that crashes will be limited. If a Web site does crash in one tab then only that tab is affected, while the browser itself and other open tabs carry on as if nothing has happened.

"In the past, if there was a bug in a Web page and it crashed it would cause the entire browser or even the operating system to crash," says Nash.

He adds that IE8 will automatically restore a tab that has crashed once it has identified the problem and then return you to the site you were on before the crash.

SmartScreen Filter

The SmartScreen Filter has been reinforced in IE8 to combat the increasingly complex ways that hackers and malicious sites send viruses and steal personal information.

The SmartScreen Filter blocks imposter sites that may download malicious software. The user has the choice to enable or disable SmartScreen, though Nash highly recommends it be enabled.

When it is enabled and you try to visit a site that is considered unsafe, a Web page with a red screen appears recommending you do not continue to the Web site. It does give the option "Disregard and continue (not recommended)" but IT managers can remove this option to "keep users from having to make a decision of trust without the knowledge to make a decision of trust," says Nash.

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