No other web browser offers as many customizable features as Internet Explorer does, particularly advanced security features that are built into the program. To understand all the Internet Explorer security features, you first have to learn about security on the Internet in general.
When you send information from your computer to another computer, the two computers are not linked directly together. Your data may travel through multiple networks as it works its way across the Internet. Since your data is broadcast to the Internet, any computer on any of these networks could be listening in and capturing your data. (They typically aren't, but they could be.)
In addition, on the Internet it's possible to masquerade as someone else. E-mail addresses can be forged, domain names of sites can easily be misleading, and so on. You need some way to protect not only the data you send, but also yourself from sending data to the wrong place.
Furthermore, there is always the potential that someone (referred to as a "hacker") or something, such as a virus, could infiltrate your computer systems. Once infiltrated, a hacker or virus can delete, rename, or even copy valuable information from your computer without your knowledge.
Through the use of security zones , you can easily tell Internet Explorer which sites you trust to not damage your computer and which sites you simply don't trust. In your company's intranet you would most likely trust all the information supplied on web pages through your company's network, but on the Internet you may want to be warned first of potential dangers a site could cause your system. You can set up different levels of security based on different zones.
When shopping on the Internet, you want to do business with only those companies that offer a certain level of security and promise to protect your buying information. In turn , those companies want to do business with legitimate customers only. A certificate (also called a digital ID ) provides both the browser and the company with a kind of guarantee confirming that you are who you say you are and that the site is secure and genuine , not a fraud or scam.
An independent company, called a credentials agency , issues three types of certificates: personal, authority, and publisher. A personal certificate identifies you so that you can access web sites that require positive identification, such as banks that allow online transactions. You can obtain a personal certificate from a credentials agency called VeriSign using the Security tab of the Options dialog box in Outlook Express. An authority certificate ensures that the web site you are visiting is not a fraud. Internet Explorer automatically checks site certificates to make sure that they're valid. A publisher certificate enables you to trust software that you download, such as ActiveX controls.
Internet Explorer maintains a list of software companies whose certificates are valid and trustworthy. You can view your certificate settings on the Content tab of the Internet Options dialog box.
Just about everyone can find objectionable material on the Internet. Parents might not want to subject their children to some of this material, such as strong language, violence, and other adult themes. However, most parents cannot spend every online minute with their children, censoring objectionable sites. In such cases, you can employ Internet Explorer's Content Advisor to screen out inappropriate sites, preventing youngsters from seeing things they shouldn't.
The Content Advisor works with different rating bureaus, such as the Recreational Software Advisory Council (RSAC), to rate sites within certain ranges. The RSAC's rating system is based on research that compiled a rating system to reflect different levels of violence, strong language, and so on. You decide exactly what kind of sites that your children can access, what ratings systems are used, which ranges are available to users within those sites, and whether users of your computer can see unrated sites.
You can also assign a supervisor password to allow a user to view such sites. As long as the user supplies the password you specified when you initially set up the content rating systems, the user can view sites where the material rates above the level chosen . You can turn off the Content Advisor at any time, opening up all sites on the Internet for viewing by any user without having to enter a password. In order for the rating system to work, sites must subscribe to the system so that their ratings are passed to your computer when you access the sites. Most sites that want to offer quality information for children and those adult sites interested in making sure only individuals 18 years old or older are accessing their sites subscribe to rating systems like the RSAC. A site that voluntarily rates itself usually displays the RSAC logo on its home page. This logo is your indication that the site has properly rated itself and offers only materials that are appropriate to its rating.