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IE 7 Security

Friday, December 1st, 2006 by | Filed Under: Using The Internet
 
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Q:
I downloaded the new Internet Explorer 7, but I’m having trouble recognizing if I’m on a secure site or not when I surf the Web. Did they change something?

A:
They sure did. This may be one topic, among all the others, that wasn’t explained very well when the new Internet Explorer was fully released. Yes, we all heard about how it was going to make us so much safer, but we were never told the basics of how it was going to do that for us. Well, I’m here to fill you in today, so let’s get started!

First of all, the changes that have been made were intended to make it easier for the users to see the secure site symbols, but it’s hard to know that until someone tells you, am I right? So, in reality, the same basic guidelines for Web site security are still set in place, but you have to look in a different spot to see them. As we’ve discussed before, the one major sign of a secure site is the little padlock that sits at the bottom of the browser window. Just in case you’re not sure, it will look like either of these:

Now, in Internet Explorer 7, that lock is not located at the bottom of the page anymore. Instead, it is placed right beside the address bar (to the right of where you type in the URL of a Web site). This was done so users would be able to find the lock much quicker and easier. It was often missed when it was clear down at the bottom of the page, so this way is much more convenient. It will now look like this:

With secure sites come certificates as well. Each site is required to have a certificate that gives their information so the user can learn more about the site they’re visiting. It’s always important to check the certificate to make sure it matches up with the site you are on. So, now with IE 7, this is much easier to do. All you have to do is click on the padlock and the certificate information will appear. If IE senses a problem with the certificate, the address bar may turn to a red color and the Web site will probably be blocked.

When you’re on a secure site, make sure you click on the padlock to view the certificate information. You will see the site’s name, their URL, the owner of the site and some additional information. If that doesn’t match with the site you’re actually on, you should leave the site immediately. For example, if you’re on WorldStart’s Web site and you click on the certificate and find information about some other site, you’ll know there is some kind of problem. You can also click on the link that says “View Certificates” for even more information, but all of that is pretty technical, so you may not be able to understand it.

If you come across a bogus certificate, you can always report the site to Microsoft or even better, just don’t go back to it. The owners of the sites should be keeping a close eye on their information, so they should find the problem and take care of it themselves. So, basically, to sum all this up: the new padlock is located right next to the address bar and you can now easily view the site’s certificates to make sure everything is running properly.

This is a great feature of IE 7 and it’s all been done to keep you as safe as possible. You can’t complain about that, now can you?!

~ Erin

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