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ActiveX Control Security

ActiveX controls are pieces of software; therefore, all the same dangers of running unknown software apply to them that apply to anything you download from the Internet. ActiveX controls are unlike Java applets, which run in an environment designed to ensure the safety of the client and which can usually cause trouble only by exploiting bugs or flaws in the Java runtime security systems. ActiveX controls, on the other hand, can do anything on the client computer. Although this increases their potential to perform functions within your Web browser and other compatible applications, it also poses an added security risk. How does the user know that a downloaded ActiveX control won't erase her hard drive?

To address this concern, Internet Explorer supports authenticode code-signing technology. This enables vendors of ActiveX controls and other software components to digitally sign these components. When they are downloaded and the digital signature is recognized, a code signature certificate is displayed onscreen. This certificate ensures that the software component is coming from the named source and that it hasn't been tampered with. At this point, the user can choose to install the software component or not install it.


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