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Configuring Internet Explorer for Practical Security and Privacy – Part 1

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Internet Explorer General tab settings

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Sometimes you have to use IE and it’s just a matter of taking proper precautions. With proper configuration and selected third-party software, Internet Explorer can be made almost as secure as any other browser out there.

The emphasis is on getting the Internet Explorer settings right which match your needs for security and privacy balanced with the ease of use which you may be accustomed to. What this boils down to is that you must decide what risks you are willing to take in order to view various Web content. Unfortunately we are forced into choosing between increasing our online security and privacy, or reducing the accessibility of certain content on the web, but that is the way it is.

Please note that configuring IE this way will reduce your risk, but unlikely to eliminate all threats. Commonsense is still called for when browsing unknown sites.

Update

Currently the most secure version of Internet Explorer is only available if you install Windows XP Service Pack2. If you are using Windows XP, please apply the service pack to enjoy the advantages of enhancements to Internet Explorer 6.

Windows XP Service Pack 2 Enhancements to Internet Explorer 6

Windows XP Service Pack 2: What’s New for Internet Explorer and Outlook Express

Configuring the Internet Explorer settings

Open Internet Explorer. Click “Tools” in the menu and “Options” to enter the “Internet Options” window.

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Select the “General” tab to modify the Internet Explorer General tab settings. In the “Home page” section, click “Use Blank” to use a blank page as your home page. A home page in a web browser is a web page that is set to open when it starts up. My preference is to use a blank page, if you prefer you can use your favourite web page as your home page. Note that selecting the option “Use Default” will set www.msn.com as your home page.

In the Temporary Internet files section, click “Delete Files” to delete all the files in your “Temporary Internet files” folder. This will delete all the files except those that start with the word “Cookie” which are pointers to the actual cookie files that are located in your Cookies folder. By default, the location of temporary Internet files (for Internet Explorer) is C:Documents and SettingsusernameLocal SettingsTemporary Internet Files.In the Temporary Internet files section,

click “Delete Cookies” to delete both the pointer to the Cookies folder and the actual cookie file located in the Cookies folder. By default the location of the cookies folder is C:WindowsCookies

The above steps are necessary to eliminate those files and cookies that are already present in your system, which may compromise the IE security.

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Still in “Temporary Internet files” section, click “Settings” to open the settings page for temporary internet files used by Internet Explorer.

What are Temporary Internet Files

“The Temporary Internet Files (or cache) folder contains Web page content that is stored on your hard disk for quick viewing. This cache permits Internet Explorer to download only the content that has changed since you last viewed a Web page, instead of downloading all the content for a page every time it is displayed.”

There are four options under Check for newer versions of stored pages:

Every visit to the page:
When you return to a page you viewed previously, Internet Explorer should check to see whether the page changed since you last viewed it. If the page has changed, Internet Explorer displays the new page and stores it in the Temporary Internet Files. Note that selecting this option can slow down browsing between pages you have already viewed.

Every time: see whether the page has changed since you last viewed it.If you select this setting, Internet Explorer checks
for new content only when you return to a page that you viewed in an earlier session of Internet Explorer or on an earlier day. Over time, if Internet Explorer determines that images on the page are changing infrequently, it checks for newer images even less frequently.

Never: Internet Explorer does not check the Web server for newer content.

How Internet Explorer Cache Settings Affect Web Browsing

My preference is to set this on “Automatically“. Click “Ok” to save the settings.

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Still in the “General” tab, click “Clear History” to empty the “History” folder. By default the location of “History” folder is C:Documents and SettingsusernameLocal SettingsHistory. This folder stores shortcuts to the pages you viewed in this session and in earlier browsing sessions depending upon the setting in the “Days to keep pages in history”. Now change the number of “days to keep pages in history” to “0” This should clear the visited pages history while exiting Internet Explorer.

Click “Apply” to save the settings.

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This concludes the Internet Explorer General Tab settings tutorial

Configuring Internet Explorer for Practical Security and Privacy – Part 2 Security tab



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