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Now that Windows 7 has RTM'd, I would like to know if I can run IE 8 isolated to protect the machine from getting a virus from the internet.

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migrated from Aug 9 '09 at 21:35

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

I don't see the programming angle here, this should be on SuperUser or possibly ServerFault – Kevin Laity Aug 8 '09 at 4:13
up vote 7 down vote accepted

I think this is case since Windows Vista & IE7

According to Wikipedia

On Windows Vista, Internet Explorer operates in a special "Protected Mode", that runs the browser in a security sandbox that has no access to the rest of the operating system or file system, except the Temporary Internet Files folder. When running in Protected Mode, IE7 is a low integrity process; it cannot gain write access to files and registry keys outside of a user profile's folder. This feature aims to mitigate problems whereby newly-discovered flaws in the browser (or in Add-Ons hosted inside it) allowed hackers to subversively install software on the user's computer (typically spyware).

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Let's not forget, though, that the most common attack vector for malware is the user. Regardless of the browser, regardless of security countermeasures in the browser or elsewhere. – Joey Aug 9 '09 at 21:45

You first need to understand how a virus attacks your machine. You can isolate any browser including IE8, and you can configure any browser with unsafe options and add-ons that will allow an infection.

Finally, there are no guarantees - only precautions, the only secure system is the one that you switch off the power to.

UPDATE - Windows 7 does have a built-in Virtual Machine capability. Its called XP mode and allows for the hosting of XP for legacy application compatability. I dont think VM's keep you safer unless the VM has no access to other machines on the network without being challenged for user name and passwords first. Even then, an infection could wait undetected until such time as you invariably reach out and touch another share.

You would need to ensure that access to the VM was from more secure zone to the less secure VM and not the other way around. Also, setup the VM to be very aggressive in anti-virus setup. I recommend McAfree Enterprise, setup the usual real-time scanning plus access protection. Also, download Chrome or Safari and use these, their integration to Windows is far less extensive than IE's and so they present a smaller attack footprint, albeit with less functionality. I recommend Safari, I prefer the industrial interface over Chromes Fisher and Price look and feel, both are based on WebKit.

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I know that running a browser in a virtual machine is a very safe way to make sure your main machine stays safe. If the virtual machine becomes infected, then you throw it away and copy a new one. I was hopeful that Windows 7 had something similar but without the need to create a whole virtual machine. – Anonymous Aug 8 '09 at 6:01

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