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Browser Security: The Dangers of Active X

If you do a lot of Internet surfing you should take a lot of security precautions to protect your browser and your PC. There are a lot of new technology applications that are being implemented on the Internet to enhance your browsing experience and hackers are taking advantage of the vulnerabilities in some of these applications.

One of the applications is known as Active X which is a control that utilizes Active X technologies to create an interactive experience when viewing a Web page. In most instances an Active X control can be automatically downloaded and executed by your browser which gives the program immediate access to your Windows operating system. Active X can also be easily exploited which is why hackers are attracted to using Active X to exploit browser security and gain unauthorized access to your PC.

Dangers of Active X

  • Downloads That Are Windows Compatible: Active X controls are embedded in websites through the use of a computer program code. The code is capable of downloading programs that are compatible with the Windows operating system which means the programs can have full run of your PC once they are installed. If the Active X controls have been exploited by a hacker, they could do a significant amount of damage to your PC.
  • Email Clients: Hackers can insert malicious code into Active X controls that compromise your email client. This type of code is capable of inserting itself into your email messages and will use your contact list to mail out infected messages to all of your email contacts.
  • Zombie Computers: Hackers can use Active X controls to convert your computer into a zombie computer. A zombie computer is a PC that has been compromised for the purpose of launching malicious attacks on large networks without the PC owner's knowledge. Often these attacks are serious enough to bring down an entire network and the PC owner will be completely unaware that their computer was involved.
  • Pull Up Questionable Websites: Once an Active X control containing malicious code is installed on your PC it can be capable of pulling up questionable websites that charge by the minute which can leave you with a large bill to pay.

How to Protect Your PC

  • Configure Browser Settings: Although Active X controls can contain some very useful programs, configure your browser settings to notify you each time an Active X is trying to download to your PC. This way you have control over the installation of Active X controls.
  • Use Browser Security Software: You can purchase browser security software that will manage your browser security settings for you and customize downloads, so you can choose what you want installed on your PC.
  • Install Antivirus Software: Install antivirus software that includes anti-malware and anti-adware programs and configure the firewall on your Windows operating system.
  • Practice Safe Surfing: Only surf the websites that you trust and be careful what you click on. If it does not feel or look right, do not click.
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Spyware has many ways of getting onto your computer, such as:

When you download programs - particularly freeware, or peer-to-peer sharing programs.

More covertly, spyware can install itself just by you visiting certain sites, by prompting you to download an application to see the site properly.

ActiveX controls. These pesky spyware makers will prompt you to install themselves while using your Internet browser