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Windows 8: Configure SmartScreen for security

Internet Explorer has had a feature called SmartScreen Filter for some time. When you visit a website, the URL is compared to a list of bad websites to see if there is a match. If the site is not on the list, it is assumed to be OK and the site is displayed. SmartScreen Filter increases security by filtering out the bad websites. The opposite happens when you download a program from the internet and the file is checked against a list of known good programs. If it is on the list then fine, but if it is not then there is a warning about it being an unknown program and that it might possibly be some sort of malware like a virus.

Windows 8 SmartScreenThis feature continues in Windows 8, but it has been enhanced. Previously you could turn SmartScreen Filter on and off by clicking the gear icon in Internet Explorer and selecting Safety, Turn on/off SmartScreen Safety Filter. You can still do that, but now there are additional options in the Action Center.

On the Start screen, just start typing action center and the search screen appears. Click Settings in the right panel and then click Action Center on the left. Click Change Windows SmartScreen settings in the left panel of Action Center.

There are three options and the first one is the most secure, Get administrator approval before running an unrecognised app... This means that only administrators will be able to run unknown programs. If someone with a standard account, such as a child, tries they won't be able to unless they get an administrator to authorise it. The second option displays a warning, but lets users run the program if they want to, even if they aren't an administrator. The third option is the least secure and it simply turns off SmartScreen. It is not recommended.

In a way, it is a bit like User Account Control, but for programs downloaded from the internet. You get a warning if something unrecognised is run and there is an opportunity to cancel. It might just prevent you from geting a virus or some other sort of malware.