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  Learn About ActiveX Controls
  • What is an ActiveX Control
  • Why does Internet Explorer block some ActiveX controls?
  • Learn more about ActiveX controls benefits and potential dangers

What is an ActiveX Control

ActiveX controls and web browser add-ons are small programs that are used extensively on the Internet. They can make browsing more enjoyable by providing toolbars, stock tickers, video, animated content, and more. These programs can malfunction, however, or give you content you don't want. In some cases, these programs can be used to collect information from your computer in ways you might not approve of, possibly damage information on your computer, install software on your computer without your consent, or allow someone else to control your computer remotely. Given these risks, you should only install ActiveX controls or add-ons if you completely trust the publisher and the website offering it.

Why does Internet Explorer block some ActiveX controls?

Internet Explorer blocks a website from using an ActiveX control on your computer if the website tries to use the ActiveX control in a way that might not be safe.

You should always be cautious about allowing websites to install or use ActiveX controls on your computer. If an ActiveX control is not essential to your computer activity, try to avoid installing it.

If you are trying to decide whether to install a particular add-on or ActiveX control, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you trust the website providing the control?

    Don't install an ActiveX control unless you trust the website that is providing it. For information about how to decide if you can trust a website, see  When to trust a website.

  • Do you know what the control is for and what it will do to your computer?

    The website should tell you what this add-on or ActiveX control is for and provide any special details you need to know before you install it. If this information is not available, you should not install the control.

Learn more about ActiveX controls benefits and potential dangers.

What are ActiveX controls and why would you need them? ActiveX allows you to do more and see more on the Internet. Many Facebook applications and features, such as video, games and slideshows, require ActiveX controls to view them. More specifically, ActiveX controls are bits of code that you acquire and install via your web browser. They do what more simple HTML code cannot do.

One of the characteristics of ActiveX controls is a basic model for download and implementation. An HTML tag tells the web browser where to find the ActiveX controls and the browser downloads them. The user is then asked to verify their authorization before the download commenced. Once the controls are installed the user is allowed to use them when they need to. This allows software developers to share information and features with Internet users quite easily. However, there is a serious flaw with this method. Most Internet users do not have the proper authorization to install the ActiveX controls. This leaves a gap between the program developers and the average Internet user.

With an increase in Internet users there has also been an increase in Internet viruses. Some more cruelly minded Internet users dispense executable code across the web and these can be dangerous. Windows set up defenses against this. For example, you have to have the appropriate authorization to install ActiveX controls. Once the computer's administrator has installed the correct codes they can be used by any one else who uses the computer. This can be frustrating for the average Internet user, if you don't have administrative rights over the computer that you're using. However, it's a very safe way to avoid malicious code from finding its way onto your computer.

Window's defenses against viruses only operate at the level of the single computer user. Its defenses fall short of large organizations. IT departments typically struggle with the issue of permissions when it comes to using ActiveX controls. There is a fine balance between allowing users access to ActiveX controls and avoiding harmful viruses. The end user is still left with a significant amount of power when they use ActiveX controls. Some companies limit the ability to install ActiveX controls altogether while others lend users a significant amount of control but make them deal with the ensuing malware and spyware.

Of course, it is possible for the IT department to install the ActiveX controls on an organization's computers ahead of time. This will work well if the controls are fixed, adjusted or amended in accordance with an operating system's desktop updates.

You can use PC Cleaner Pro to block known potential harmful ActiveX controls by downloading this version here: > Click here to download PC Cleaner Pro with ActiveX blocking feature.




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