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Anti-Malware Tools Trip Up IE7 Install

Temporarily disable your anti-malware apps before installing new Internet Explorer, says Microsoft

If you're planning to deploy Internet Explorer 7 as soon as it becomes available later this month, hold it right there. You'll first have to temporarily disable your anti-virus and anti-spyware applications or it may not install properly.

Microsoft says that IE7's setup process writes many registry keys in addition to copying files and because AV and anti-spyware apps are written such that they don't allow "writes" to certain registry keys, you have to disable these apps during setup.

"Any registry key write that fails during setup will cause setup to fail and rollback changes," writes John Hrvatin, IE7 program manager in Microsoft's IE blog. "We work around the problem in most instances by checking permissions at the beginning of setup, but many anti-malware programs monitor the key rather than change permissions."

This isn't a quirk with IE7, but rather with many anti-malware apps. Marc Maiffret, CTO and chief hacking officer for eEye Digital Security, says the problem is that many of these security tools prevent the alteration of registry keys. "This is really due to a lot of shoddy poor security solutions being in use today," Maiffret says. "Preventing the alteration of registry keys is not how you protect a system with host-based security software."

Maiffret says eEye's Blink has a feature where you can either allow or deny registry key access, but it's an option, not a default. "It's nice to have a feature that you can use if you want to, but by no means do we turn it on or have default rules in place to restrict access to registry keys in a blunt manner, because in a real world things will break," he says.

Microsoft has worked with many anti-malware vendors to ensure IE7 setup is considered "safe" based on digital signatures or hashes, but setup problems still can occur, Hrvatin says in the IE blog.

In the meantime, Microsoft recommends downloading and testing IE7 RC1 to test for compatibility issues with your Websites and apps.

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)
  • eEye Digital Security
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