Privacy, Security & Virus Information
ActiveX – Can’t live with them…or without them
The problem with ActiveX controls is a classic can’t live with them, can’t live without them.
ActiveX is a Microsoft technology designed to enhance the online experience by allowing Internet Explorer to interact with code snippets on web sites, like online calculators.
As with many well-intentioned discoveries, the reality of how the invention is used is often very different from that envisaged by the inventor.
ActiveX is also public enemy number one as security threat because hackers can subvert the technology to download a virus, worm or malware to your computer.
If an ActiveX control installs on your computer, the program is accessible to your browser without any interaction from the computer user.
This is bad for two reasons:
You probably don’t even know you have downloaded a malicious ActiveX control
The ActiveX control has the capability for taking over all or any part of your computer
The internet would be a worse, less interactive place without ActiveX, but it’s a more dangerous with ActiveX.
Microsoft is fighting a continual battle with hackers by constantly rewriting and updating ActiveX controls to make them less vulnerable to attack.
The problem is Microsoft and the malware writers are neck-and-neck in the race and this doesn’t really help vulnerable users.
The simplest way to protect your computer against ActiveX is to switch your browser away from Internet Explorer to Firefox, Opera or any other popular, free, non-Microsoft browser.
The only browser requiring ActiveX controls is Internet Explorer.
Your browsing experience may suffer if you use one of the other browsers as the ActiveX application on the web site will not work.
However, with a huge shift away from Microsoft web technologies like active server pages (asp and aspx) to PHP, you may not even notice the change.
The other option is switching your ActiveX security protection to high and check very carefully every time Internet Explorer flags an ActiveX control is trying to load.
If the source is not trusted or you have any doubts, don’t load the control until you’ve checked out source certification by Googling the site and provider.