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When a virus is installed on your computer, one of the first things it does, is it lowers your Internet Explorer security settings so it can freely move about your system and allow other viruses and malware to be installed. Periodically checking these settings allows you to reset them if they are changed, limiting the damage they can do and also make you aware that virus activity has occurred on your computer. These settings are very easy to review and reset if needed.

Whether you use Windows 8, 7, Vista or XP, open Internet Explorer by clicking on the blue “e.” Once it opens, go to the top and in the “Menu bar” click “Tools,” and then click “Internet options.” If you don’t see your “Menu bar” at the top just under the address bar, right-click an open area under the address bar and checkmark “Menu bar.” It should now be visible.

Across the top of the “Internet Options” dialog box, you’ll see seven tabs. In most cases, it will open up to the “General” tab. Go ahead and click the “Security” tab. Under the section: “Select a zone to view or change security settings,” you will see four different zones, namely: “Internet,” “Local Intranet,” “Trusted sites” and “Restricted sites.” Go ahead and click the first zone, “Internet,” if it is not already selected.

Now below, under “Security level for this zone,” click the “Default level” button. If you are not able to click it because it is “grayed” out, it means it is already selected. When you do this, there should also be a checkmark in the “Enable Protected Mode” box. If the checkmark isn’t there after clicking the “Default level” button, this is an indication you may have an infected computer. I’ll give you some options hereafter, of what you can do if this occurs.

Next, click to enter the “Local Intranet” zone above. Go ahead and click the “Default level” button below. This time, there should not be a checkmark in the “Enable Protected Mode” box.

Go to the top again and select the “Trusted sites” zone and click the “Default level” button. Again, there should not be a checkmark in the “Enable Protected Mode” box.

And lastly, click the “Restricted sites” zone above, and this time, the box: “Enable Protected Mode” should be check marked.

Click “OK” once you have reviewed each of your zones to save your changes.

If you find difficulties with these settings, there is a high probability that your system is infected. You should run your antivirus software to see if it can find and remove any viruses. Afterwards, review your security settings again to see if they will reset properly. If not, I recommend getting help from a professional. I would also avoid any Internet activity such as going into your banking websites and other critical locations where a breach may have a negative impact on you until you can be certain your system is clean.

Scott Lindsay writes a weekly column for the Tooele Transcript Bulletin newspaper teaching the community how to use Microsoft software and actively promotes learning the computer, regardless of age, to better one’s life and circumstances. He has helped tens of thousands of people over the past 13 years to become better computer users.

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