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Internet Explorer 9 SmartScreen Filter

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Microsoft included SmartScreen Filter in Internet Explorer from version 8. It is a feature that helps in detecting malicious Websites and programs, so that the users can avoid socially engineered malware phishing websites and online fraud. It warns you, when you are about to visit a malicious Website or when you try to download a malicious program from the Internet.

How does it work

SmartScreen Filter works in a couple of ways. It first checks the address of the website you are visiting against a list stored on your computer that are believed by Microsoft to be legitimate. If its not in the list, it then uses a frequently updated online list of known malicious URL’s to check the Websites you visit.

It also checks the URL lists for reported malicious software sites, before a file download is commenced. In addition the SmartScreen Filter evaluates the characteristics of the web pages in the background to detect suspicious behavior and alerts the user if typical characteristics of an unsafe website is found.


SmartScreen Filter blocking a malicious site


SmartScreen Filter blocking a malicious file download

Basically it checks the reputation of the URL’s, whether the computers hosting files at the URL are reported for phishing or known to distribute malicious content. If it finds a match, it will display a red warning message notifying that the Website has been blocked for your safety. A message to proceed with caution is displayed in case of a suspicious site.

According to Microsoft, SmartScreen Filter only blocks those sites that are verified as unsafe by reviewers at Microsoft and third party data providers.

File is not commonly downloaded and could harm your computer


File not commonly downloaded warning from smartscreen filter.

If you see a message as above, it does not mean that the file is malicious or the Website is fraudulent. You are just cautioned against installing the software unless you trust the publisher and the Website. SmartScreen Filter checks the program with a list of most commonly downloaded software by other Internet Explorer users and also against a list of malicious software. If the program you are trying to download is not on either of the lists, Internet Explorer will display the “file not commonly downloaded” warning.

SmartScreen Filter Options


You can access SmartScreen Filter options by clicking on the Tools icon and then expanding the Safety menu item.

Check this Website: You can check any that you currently visiting by using this option.

Turn off/on SmartScreen Filter: Turn SmartScreen filter off or back on.

Report unsafe website: If you stumble upon a suspicious website, you can report that site to Microsoft.

What information are you sharing with Microsoft?

SmartScreen Filter uses a secure SSL (Secure Socket Layer) web connection to send website addresses to Microsoft.

If you opt in to SmartScreen Filter the following will be sent to Microsoft:

  • The address of the Website you are visiting
  • Referrer data, search term associated with the website
  • Standard computer information
  • SmartScreen Filter version number
  • Periodical information about your usage of SmartScreen Filter
  • Name, file path and file identifier of files downloaded

More Images of SmartScreen Filter

Sources of Information:

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

MurGee October 14, 2011 at 12:04 AM

How to get rid of the warning issued by SmartScreen Filter ? Whenever we update our files, they are marked as unsafe by Internet Explorer and then how to get rid off this warning without disabling the smartscreen filter?


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