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Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 IE7 Preview

Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 IE7 Preview - PCSTATS
Abstract: We're going to look at the new features which Microsoft plans to bring to the table With Internet Explorer 7, and examine how the underlying unctionality of the browser has changed to better protect your computer.
 90% Rating:   
Filed under: Software Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Microsoft Dec 23 2005   Mike Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Software > Microsoft IE7

Under the Hood: Security and code changes

Internet Explorer (despite what the average Linux devotee will tell you) is not inherently insecure. It's as secure as Microsoft can possibly make it, and is constantly updated to protect against new exploits and malware. It does have the distinction of being the largest and most obvious target for any Internet-based piece of nasty software though, meaning that new vulnerabilities are constantly being discovered. Also, unlike competing browsers, IE is an integral part of the Windows operating system, and thus can compromise the entire computer if its security is defeated. In these respects, claims that browsers like Firefox are inherently more secure than Internet Explorer are correct.

This fact may be about to change though, since Microsoft is making some fundamental changes to the way that Internet Explorer works 'under the hood.' Let's take a look at some of the new security measures

The 'malformed URL' attack, in which the user is persuaded to click a link to a URL that is intended to cause a buffer overflow in the browser's memory space, allowing arbitrary (malicious) code to be executed on the computer, is one of the most common attacks aimed at any browser. In current versions of Internet Explorer, a patch needs to be devised to address each exploit of this type, since the original browser code which contains the base vulnerability cannot be easily changed.

Internet Explorer 7 is designed to reduce this vulnerability by providing a single code location for processing URLs. This should not only make the browser immune to all current URL exploits, but also make securing it from future ones much easier to achieve.

A second improvement to general Internet security is the IE 7 requirement that all browser windows have address bars, providing users with more knowledge about the web page they are viewing. This goes hand-in-hand with upcoming (scheduled for Internet Explorer 7 beta 2) features which will allow users to test whether the URL they are seeing in their address bar or in a link actually goes where it says it does. This will hopefully neutralize one of the most effective malware vectors: misleading or disguised links.

Microsoft has also made changes to the way scripts initiated by a website are handled. The new restrictions allow scripts to be executed only within the originating website's domain. To enable this, the domain name will be appended to the script within IE7 and the browser will refuse to run cross-domain scripts. This prevents certain phishing attacks in which a user is tricked into browsing to a malicious web page which will then link to an authentic protected site while simultaneously running a script to capture any information the user enters into the site.

On the more technical side, Internet Explorer 7 should feature improved support for CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) as well as new support for transparent PNG graphics files, allowing a variety of transparency-related graphical effects to be rendered more easily.

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Contents of Article: Microsoft IE7
 Pg 1.  Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 IE7 Preview
 Pg 2.  Internet Explorer 7's major changes
 Pg 3.  IE 7 x 2: Two versions of the same browser
 Pg 4.  Convenience features: printer friendly internet
 Pg 5.  Interface changes and the search bar
 Pg 6.  — Under the Hood: Security and code changes
 Pg 7.  IE7 - Better administration

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