Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


03:22 PM
Connect Directly

Internet Explorer 9 Beta Brings New Browser Security Features

Microsoft's IE download manager now integrated with SmartScreen filter

The beta version of Internet Explorer 9 released by Microsoft this week comes with at least one significant security enhancement -- the Download Manager scans files for malware and issues warnings when it detects malicious code.

Microsoft has integrated the Download Manager with its SmartScreen URL filter, a feature that first debuted in IE 8. SmartScreen is an anti-phishing and anti-malware filter that blocks badware in real-time, based on Microsoft's application reputation database. In IE 9, the browser's Download Manager now also blocks downloads from known malicious URLs: It flashes a warning in the browser's new notification bar as well as in Download Manager. The user then decides whether to download it.

The new download reputation feature also helps eliminate false positives for known and safe files, according to Microsoft. It issues a severe warning when the file attempting to download is at high risk of being malicious. "Users today are often conditioned to ignore generic warnings that are shown for every download. Other browsers show the same warning whether a file is an extremely common program or a piece of malware created literally minutes ago. Internet Explorer 9 is the only browser that uses download reputation to help users make safety decisions," Microsoft's website for IE 9 says.

The downside of user alerts popping up elsewhere and not at the top of the page is that this could cause some confusion, noted one security expert who requested anonymity. "Unfortunately, this could cause problems where users are confused about what they're clicking on, or even click on the wrong thing, depending on the situation," the expert says.

But, overall, the new IE appears to have stronger built-in security than previous versions, experts say. "[IE 9] deals with security more intelligently than prior versions. And security, visual capability, and performance are three of the key areas the product is designed to excel in," says Rob Enderle, principal analyst, The Enderle Group. "On security, they have increased its ability to look for unusual downloads and flag them, identify known hostile sites more rapidly, and while the plug-in identification tool is designed for speed, it will also help users identify plug-ins they may have already installed that are doing bad things."

The new browser also has randomized memory management, which makes hacking it more difficult, he says. Other new features include a limit on redirection, which makes it harder to hijack a user to a malicious site. New protections for cross-site scripting and clickjacking are also part of this release, as well as a new protection mode akin to Google's sandboxing mode for Chrome, Enderle says. This lets "a user who knows they might be going someplace dangerous to effectively raise shields that will better protect them," he says.

IE 9 beta is available for download here.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
US Turning Up the Heat on North Korea's Cyber Threat Operations
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  9/16/2019
7 Ways VPNs Can Turn from Ally to Threat
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  9/21/2019
Security Pros Value Disclosure ... Sometimes
Dark Reading Staff 9/19/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: I wish they'd put a sock in it.
Current Issue
7 Threats & Disruptive Forces Changing the Face of Cybersecurity
This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at the biggest emerging threats and disruptive forces that are changing the face of cybersecurity today.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
PUBLISHED: 2019-09-23
** REJECT ** DO NOT USE THIS CANDIDATE NUMBER. ConsultIDs: none. Reason: This candidate was withdrawn by its CNA. Further investigation showed that it was not a security issue. Notes: none.
PUBLISHED: 2019-09-23
Hunspell 1.7.0 has an invalid read operation in SuggestMgr::leftcommonsubstring in suggestmgr.cxx.
PUBLISHED: 2019-09-23
ImageMagick 7.0.8-35 has a memory leak in magick/xwindow.c, related to XCreateImage.
PUBLISHED: 2019-09-23
ImageMagick 7.0.8-35 has a memory leak in coders/dps.c, as demonstrated by XCreateImage.
PUBLISHED: 2019-09-23
ImageMagick 7.0.8-35 has a memory leak in coders/dot.c, as demonstrated by AcquireMagickMemory in MagickCore/memory.c.