Internet Explorer 8 RC1 Released: Imperfect, but Improved

Dennis Faas's picture

As of yesterday, the first Release Candidate (RC1) of Internet Explorer is now available from Microsoft's web site.

Much of the publicity for the latest (and potentially last edition) of Microsoft's Internet Explorer has surrounded the browser's usability features, which promise to make surfing easier than ever before. But it's the added security elements that deserve the most attention.

It's already been proven that Internet Explorer 8 is not unbeatable by hackers. But the new security options will make more of a difference in the long run than usability features such as Web Slices and Accelerators. Frankly, those features may look impressive but won't save you from a devastating attack.

Known Malware Sites 'Blacklisted' by IE8

Internet Explorer 8 adds protection against malware by checking sites you are attempting to visit against a blacklist of sites known to be infected. There's no guarantee that this list will be any more comprehensive than that used by search engines such as Google, and it's certainly no substitute for properly-maintained security software, but it's still a worthwhile extra guard. (Source:

There are also new features designed to block cross-site scripting (where one website exploits a bug to intercept data your computer is exchanging with another, legitimate, site) and clickjacking (which exploits a problem with the way frames work and can trick users into clicking an invisible button to install rogue software). Neither of these are anywhere close to perfect, and the clickjacking technology relies on website owners to add a special tag to their coding and to avoid using frames, even for legitimate purposes.

Domain Scams Highlighted

There's also a useful tweak to the way website addresses are displayed. The browser now uses light and dark text to make it clearer what the actual website you are visiting is. This will help show when a rogue website is trying to disguise itself by including the name of a legitimate website at the start of a longer address. (Source:

Whether Internet Explorer 8 is 'safer' than rival browsers is yet to be conclusively proven, and it depends on how you use the Internet and the type of sites you visit. The new features all have limitations and hackers may well find a way around them. But it's certainly more secure than previous editions of Internet Explorer and worth the upgrade for everyday IE users.

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