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Microsoft Details IE 8 Security Default Change

Microsoft plans to make a key Internet Explorer default change to thwart attackers trying to hack into its Web browser. The software maker will enable DEP/NX (Data Execution Prevention/No Execute) by default in IE 8 when the browser is running on Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, a major tweak aimed at mitigating browser-based vulnerabilities. DEP/NX is already available in IE 7, but it's turned off by default because of compatibility issues.

With the default change, IE 8 automatically gets a security feature that prevents an application or service from executing code from a nonexecutable memory region. When used in tandem with additional security mechanisms, DEP/NX can help to reduce the effectiveness of hacker attacks.

According to Microsoft Program Manager Eric Lawrence, the DEP/NX protection will apply to Internet Explorer and all add-ons loaded by the browser. "No additional user interaction is required to provide this protection, and no new prompts are introduced," Lawrence said.

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