Staying Safe Online in the New Year

The bad guys didn’t take a holiday vacation: Internet Explorer’s SmartScreen service blocked nearly 2 million malware downloads per day on average from mid-December through New Year’s. December 25 saw a 30% spike in malware blocks— successfully preventing users from being tricked into giving their PCs an unwanted “present.”

January is a great time to resolve to stay safer online. Microsoft works around the clock, year-round, to help. By following a few simple best practices, including opting into Automatic Updates and Internet Explorer’s SmartScreen Filter, you can help keep your computer secure on the Web.

New PC owners will be happy to hear that Windows 7 users are 5 times less likely to be infected with malware than users running Windows XP. To improve your defenses even more, Windows 7 and Windows Vista users should be sure to upgrade to IE9, our safest and most secure browser. Later this month, we’ll help keep more customers safe by beginning simpler, seamless automatic upgrade process for customers who aren’t running the latest, most secure versions of IE for their operating system. Of course, no matter what OS and browser you use, you should ensure that you install updates as they become available – including updates for browser extensions, a common source of vulnerability. If you got a new phone or tablet over the holiday, be extra careful where you get your apps—the bad guys have noted these fresh new targets and are reacting accordingly.

This month marks the tenth anniversary of Bill Gates’ Trustworthy Computing memo, and delivering trustworthy browsing is more important than ever, as the ecosystem grows to encompass phones, tablets, and other form factors and the bad guys attempt even more clever attacks. We’re excited to be working with the rest of the Windows team on cutting-edge security improvements in IE10 and Windows 8, and we’ll be describing our new defenses in a series of posts over the next two months.

—Eric Lawrence, IE Security

Comments (4)

  1. N. Sun says:

    Great job IE team for building such a safe browser!

  2. Helen says:

    Does this mean IE10 will finally drop all ActiveX support to improve IE user security?

  3. Arieta says:

    ActiveX hasn't been a security problem for years. Not any more than how Firefox can install any toolbars that monitor user behavior and change search providers/homepage settings.

    Though on that note, it would be nice if IE finally had a real way for extending the browser functionality. The current way of requiring installers for every addon… it is not too user friendly.

  4. Klimax says:

    Arieta  Wednesday, January 18, 2012 6:34 AM:

    That's COM. On the other hand it takes care of compatibility problems by keeping interface, while implementation can change, so plugins work even on new version. (Maybe not very fast, but work…) Same thing as DirectX or ShellExtensions.