Many people have heard about ActiveX (that thin, yellow bar that pops up at the top of your browser sometimes) but don’t know how to install or disable it. If you are wondering how to do either of those actions, this guide will show you how to install ActiveX and how to control it. It will also explain exactly what ActiveX is in a more detailed way.

What Is ActiveX

ActiveX is software that allows you to do really cool things such as displaying fancy menus in games, things that seem to sort of pop out within the browser without having to open a new window, make airline reservations, and many other interesting features. It was designed by Microsoft and implemented into Service Pack 1 straight from the start. ActiveX was then changed later on in Service Pack 2 so that it would from then on ask you whether you want to open ActiveX or not (that’s what the yellow bar at the top of your browser is for). The entire security system of Service Pack 2 is designed around the idea of protecting you from ActiveX. If you go to Control Panel and click on Internet Options, you’ll notice that there are the Security and Privacy tabs. These tabs are there to allow you to decide which websites you want to allow access to ActiveX and which ones you do not. Microsoft.com is an obvious exception that you can allow but you should be very careful about which other ones you put on the Allow list. Let’s take a look at why and how.

Why You Shouldn’t Use ActiveX

The problem with ActiveX is that it allows websites and software to access your computer, which is how it alters the html in a way that gives you the cool things that you see. That’s why you better be sure that you trust a particular website before running ActiveX. ActiveX can allow websites complete access to your computer, which, goes without saying is extremely dangerous.

Controlling ActiveX

To control ActiveX, you’ll need to go to the  Start menu and locate the Control Panel. After you’ve opened the Control Panel,  locate and open the Internet Options icon. Now find the Security tab on the Internet Options window and click on it. This is where you’ll be controlling every aspect of your security and ActiveX. Get to know this window as it’ll help you protect yourself against malicious agents.

Trusted Sites

The Trusted Sites section of the Security tab in Internet Explorer is where you list out all the sites that are allowed to use ActiveX in your browser. If you trust a particular website, like www.microsoft.com, then all you have to do is click on the Trusted Sites button and then click “Sites…”. Once you do that, type the url of the website into the bar and then click “Add”. After you do that you can click “Ok” because you are done. Remember, only add a website to this list if you really trust it. You can add as many websites to the list as you want and websites can later be removed from the list simply by scrolling through the list until you find the one you want to remove, clicking on it, and then clicking the “Remove” button. If you have multiple computers, you’ll need to follow these procedures on each computer.

Restricted Sites

The Restricted Sites section of the Security tab is there so you can list all of the malicious sites that you come across that can harm your computer. When you get your computer, a lot of these websites will already be listed but it’s impossible to list them all because websites are constantly being created. Most of these websites are usually advertising porn or some sort of virus protection, but what they’re actually trying to do is gain access to your computer. If you know a website that causes bad things to happen on your computer and you don’t want to see it again then go to Start –> Control Panel –> Internet Explorer and then click on the Security tab. Now that you’re in the Security tab, click on the Restricted Sites button and then click the “Sites…” button. Now just type the website url (www.example.com) into the bar and then click “Add”. You’re done! You have successfully added a malicious site to your Restricted Sites list and now you won’t have to worry about that website again. You can easily remove a website from the Restricted Sites list simply by scrolling through the list until you find the website you want to remove, clicking on it, and then clicking the “Remove” button. Keep in mind that if you have multiple computers, you’ll need to apply the same procedures to each of them. Keep doing this as many times as you’d like to block any site that you don’t want to see. If you have teenagers in the house then you could also use this method to block specific porn websites but there’s always the chance that they’ll just change the settings back and this method also doesn’t apply to all porn websites in general, just the ones you put on the list. The best option for that would be to get a CyberNanny or other such child monitoring devices.

Security Level

The Security Level option is designed to give you more control over the way your browser displays web pages and how it accepts cookies. Generally, you’ll want to leave these as the defaults as Microsoft knows best. If these settings somehow get changed due to a virus or other malicious software or you just did it by accident, all you have to do is click the little button labeled “Default Level”, which can be found right next to the “Custom Level” button on the Security tab.

How To Disable ActiveX

To completely disable ActiveX altogether so you won’t have to worry about which sites you let through and which ones you don’t, go to your Start menu and find Control Panel. Now open Internet Options and go to the the Security tab. Once you’ve opened that, click on the button at the bottom of the window called “Custom Level…”. Another window will pop up. You now have two options. You can either 1. Disable or change specific options at your whim or 2. Find where it says “Reset Custom Settings” at the bottom and set it to “High” and then click Reset. Now you’re done. ActiveX should now be disabled on your computer.