Another step to being security wise is to delete the history that Internet Explorer 11 has been building up for you in order to make internet searching/browsing quicker - Password history, Visited Websites history and Cookies history. By default (normal behaviour) Internet Explorer 11 keeps a copy of the website pages you visit so that it can quickly load them up next time you visit them. This is okay in theory but security-wise it means you have a trace (footprint of visited websites) on your computer which can be used by malware and so on. Your browsing habits can be taken advantage of in other words.
A trojan can emulate your bank's website to the degree whereby it looks and feels just like the original bank's website. Based on your browsing history and Internet Explorer 11 settings malware could redirect you to its fake bank website, which looks and feels just like your proper bank's website - This redirection could be done via a convincing e-mail or on-screen notice claiming to be from your bank. The malware would know which bank you use by looking at your Internet Explorer 11 history, cookie files and so on. Malware can infect your computer and alter security settings; something that you need to keep in mind.
Over these next seven sections you will be shown how to Clean-Up your visited websites history, how to Restore internet settings and how to Protect yourself from bad websites in general using Internet Options. Note Well: These lessons apply equally other web browsers with similar settings, such as Firefox and Google Chrome, even though I have concentrated on Internet Explorer 11 in this category.
When you are offline (not connected to the Internet) open Internet Explorer 11 and then select the INTERNET OPTIONS menu-item from either the TOOLS menu of the Menu Bar (Fig 1.0) or the TOOLS menu of the Commands Bar (Fig 1.1). Either way will open the Internet Options window (Fig 1.3). With Internet Explorer 11 you can also use its new TOOLS menu represented by a Cog-Wheel icon (Fig 1.2).
Fig 1.0 - Click on the TOOLS menu and then select the INTERNET OPTIONS menu-item....
Fig 1.1 - Click on the TOOLS menu and then select the INTERNET OPTIONS menu-item....
Fig 1.2 - Click on the COG-WHEEL icon and then select the INTERNET OPTIONS menu-item....
Fig 1.3 - The Internet Options window
When the Internet Options window opens you will notice that it is split up into smaller windows, called TABs. This is because all of its settings would not fit onto one big window, and even if they could be it makes sense to categorize the settings with TAB windows. The first TAB is categorized as General, to mean General Settings. The second TAB is categorized as Security, to mean Security Settings. And so on.
On the General TAB the first setting to change is the Home Page setting, which allows you to set the default website address or webpage address that Internet Explorer 11 connects to and displays when it is first launched. I will not show an example of using the HOME PAGE edit box here, in order to change the default home page, because many edit box examples have already been given throughout this website.
One reason why you might need to change the default home page (website address or webpage address) is because some Malware might have changed (hijacked) it to a bad website address. Or you might want Internet Explorer 11 to start faster by using a fast-startup website, such as www.google.com, and/or want the first website to be a website that is always used instead of using your computer manufacturer's home page for example. Computer manufacturers tend to set internet explorer's default home page to their own website address.
The DELETE button in the Browsing History settings allows you to delete files such as Cookie files, Temporary Downloaded files, Log files and so on that are stored inside a folder call Temp on your hard drive. Some of these files are deleted automatically after use whilst others are kept until a clean-up is performed. For example: When a program is downloaded from the internet and then installed its log file might remain inside the Temp folder but its installation (.exe) file might get deleted, depending on the installation.
Fig 1.4 - Click on DELETE to open the Delete Browsing History window
Fig 1.5 - The Delete Browsing History window
The Delete Browsing History window (Fig 1.5 above) gives you the option of deleting certain files, from your hard drive, one-by-one or in one go depending on whether or not you have all the options ticked or just a couple of them ticked for example. Most of the options are self-explanatory but I will briefly explain them here.
Temporary Internet Files are files that are saved onto your hard drive, inside the Temporary Internet Files sub-folder, whenever you visit a website for the first time. These files are the text, picture, music and so on files that make up that website's webpages. The next time you visit that website Internet Explorer 11 first checks to see if that website has changed any of its files (webpage content). If it has not Internet Explorer 11 simply displays the website's webpages using the files from the Temporary Internet Files sub-folder. This saves Internet Explorer 11 from having to newly download the files each time you visit that website, thus speeding up the display process.
With any file (webpage) that has changed, since your last visit to that website, Internet Explorer 11 simply downloads it and puts it into the Temporary Internet Files sub-folder. Over time each visit to the website means its files are being used/displayed from the Temporary Internet Files sub-folder and no longer being downloaded from the actual website's server. This scenario happens for every webpage you visit, meaning there will be thousands of files inside the Temporary Internet Files sub-folder as you visit more and more websites.
Clicking on the DELETE button, with the Temporary Internet Files option ticked, will empty the Temporary Internet Files sub-folder. This means that each website you visit from this point onwards Internet Explorer 11 will have to newly download each website's files (webpages) again, from each website's server. So if you have a webpage that you have not printed yet, and/or want saving, you should do these things before clicking on the DELETE button.
Cookies, which are explained here, are text files that websites create/use to store information about You, Your Account, Your Password and so on. A cookie file is usually stored on your computer, inside the Cookies sub-folder, whenever you enter details on a website. For example: If you visit a Flight website and then book a flight, by filling out an online form, that website might store a cookie file on your computer which will enable it to check/compare your online form details the next time you visit the website. The purpose of this is normally to do with security issues (i.e. the website could check your newly entered details against your old (cookie file) details to determine if you are who you say you are) and/or advertising issues (i.e. the website could gather your hobbies (flight destinations) based on your cookie file). Virtually any website could create a cookie file, but cookie files are normally created by websites that have online forms on them.
Clicking on the DELETE button, with the Cookies option ticked, will empty the Cookies sub-folder. This means that each website you visit from this point onwards, that deals with cookie files, will have to create its cookie files again. So if you do not want to have to fill in certain parts of a website's online form, or change certain settings, each time you visit a particular website you should not click on this button.
History files are basically link files which keep a record of the websites you have visited over a period of time (i.e. 7 Days). When this time has passed Internet Explorer 11 starts to clean up the history files, one day at a time, by deleting that day's history files. For example: With Monday 1st to Sunday 7th, on Monday 8th the history files for Monday 1st are deleted to make room for the Monday 8th history files. On Tuesday 9th the history files for Tuesday 2nd are deleted to make room for the Tuesday 9th history files. And so on. A rota system in other words.
Clicking on the DELETE button, with the History option ticked, will delete all of the history files. You can set the number of days to keep history files (explained later) but eventually the automatic deleting/clean-up process by Internet Explorer 11 will happen. The DELETE button is useful if you like to keep your computer clean & tidy, and/or need to get rid of some evidence!! Setting the number of days to leave history files on the computer too high is not recommended as this behaviour tends to slow down the computer in terms of protection software, and software in general, having to index many many history files.
Download History is roughly the same as above but will delete the history of your downloaded files - It will NOT delete the actual downloaded files, just the list (history) of downloaded files.
Form Data files are more or less like Cookie files. They store information about details you have entered into a General form, as opposed to an Online form specifically. A general form could be a Guest Book on someones website for example. Instead of having to fill out similar Guest Book forms, with the same details, Form Data is saved in the same manner as AutoComplete - When you go to another form, on a different website, your details are fetched from the Form Data files and automatically filled in when you type the first character or double-click inside an edit box. A form has to support the AutoComplete function for this to work of course.
AutoComplete is a feature of Windows that automatically completes a word, or sequence of words, for you based on a word or sequence of words you have typed before. For example: If you are writing a book and for the first time type CHAPTER you must type CHAPTER out completely. However. If you were to then type CHAPTER again, this time around you would only have to type CH for example before Auto Complete would automatically complete CHAPTER for you - as it knows you have typed CHAPTER before. If you have typed CHARLIE before, when you start typing CH Auto Complete will give you a choice. CHAPTER or CHARLIE.
Clicking on the DELETE button, with the Form Data option ticked, will delete all of the form data files. Therefore. Each website you visit from this point onwards means you will have to fill in their form (form data) again, from scratch, because the autocomplete (saved form) data will have been deleted. To avoid this scenario do not tick the Form Data option.
Passwords files are files that store Online Form passwords and Account passwords for you. They also use the AutoComplete function as described above, if the online form supports AutoComplete in the PASSWORD edit box. In general, if the online form you are filling out belongs to a Banking website or similar I would advise that you do not save your bank password. How to switch off password saving is explained below.
Clicking on the DELETE button, with the Passwords option ticked, will delete all password files. Therefore. Each website you visit from this point onwards, that uses an online PASSWORD edit box form, means you will need to fill in the PASSWORD edit box again from scratch. To avoid this scenario do not tick the Passwords option.
Preserve Favorites Website Data is an option that when ticked keeps Cookies and Temporary Internet Files belonging to your favorite websites - Websites that you have added to your Internet Explorer 11 Favorites List. Unticking this option and then clicking on the DELETE button will delete these preserved files. On one hand, keeping this option ticked will preserve these files when the DELETE button is clicked but on the other hand these preserved files can also bloat your hard drive if you have too many websites in your favorites list.
Activex Filtering And Tracking Protection Data - Tracking Protection Data files are files that store detection details about third-party websites that may be automatically sharing certain aspects about your website visits (browsing habits), for good or bad reasons (i.e. to display "Special Offer ads based on your history). When the Tracking Protection function is switched on Cookies and Temporary Internet Files are stored as normal, so webpages still work correctly, but are deleted when you exit Internet Explorer 11. History, Passwords and Form Data are not stored when this function is switched on.
The Tracking Protection function, which is an extension of Internet Explorer 11's InPrivate Filtering function, basically stops others from spying on your browsing habits. Or put another way. It enables you to surf the internet without leaving a trail in Internet Explorer 11. This helps prevent anyone else who might be using your computer from seeing where you visited and what you looked at on the internet. The ActiveX Filtering function is a further security improvement that blocks any ActiveX controls embedded within a website from running.
Clicking on the DELETE button, with the Activex Filtering And Tracking Protection Data option ticked, will delete all inprivate filtering data files.
Fig 1.6 - Tick all of the options and then click on the DELETE button to delete your Browsing History files
As said above, in the History explanation, you can alter the number of days in which to keep History files before they are then automatically cleaned up (rotated) by Internet Explorer 11. Changing the number of days is quite straight forward. First click on the SETTINGS button on the Internet Options window (Fig 1.7 below), to open the Website Data Settings window, click on its HISTORY Tab and then change the DAYS TO KEEP PAGES IN HISTORY (Fig 1.8) before clicking on the OK button.
Fig 1.7 - Click on SETTINGS to open the T.I.F.A.H.S window
Fig 1.8 - Click on the Arrows, or inside the Edit Box, to make your changes.
Lowering the number of days from 20 to 1 for example can help in preventing Malware and Cookies from profiling your internet activities and be a good house keeping chore for the computer, but not so good if you want to keep a history of the websites you visit over the next one week or so. Ideally though, you should set the number of days to 1 or 0 for the just said reasons or a maximum of 7 to 10 days if you want to keep your history files for a while. Remember: At the end of the day History files take up space on your hard drive and give more work to protection software who have to scan these files. Thus, more wear and tear on your hard drive.
After changing the DAYS TO KEEP PAGES IN HISTORY setting click on the OK button, to apply the changes now and then continue with something else, or click on the OK button to apply the changes now and then exit Internet Options (by clicking on its OK or EXIT (Red X) button).