• Bad Web Design: ActiveX

     

    The theory behind this security model is the user knows what's best for his system. In my humble opinion, this is pure hogwash (a stronger expletive came to mind but this is a family site). Is your average web surfer really knowledgeable enough to make a decision like this? Look at it this way, by installing an ActiveX control you are assuming it is secure, won't damage your system and is bug-free. You are basically trusting completely the company which created the control, the developers and the people distributing the image.

    Yes there are security certificates involved, but those are relatively easy to get. Also remember how many security problems have been reported involving ActiveX controls.

    I don't know about you, but when I get that little box stating a site wants to install an ActiveX control, my first impulse is to hit the NO box, quickly followed by the BACK key. This may seem a bit paranoid, but I use my computer all day long and I depend upon it for business and pleasure. Why would I want to put it at any risk for some silly little ActiveX control? The web is a huge place and there are plenty of other sites to look at.

    My advice to anyone is generally don't allow ActiveX controls to be installed from anywhere except for really big sites like Microsoft. It's just too difficult to judge how safe or unsafe the control happens to be.

    How is this different from Java? Well, Java has an entirely different security model which does not make the assumption that the user has been educated about the specific Java applet. Java sets specific rules to what an applet can and cannot do, and generally these rules do an excellent job of preventing damage to a system (there have been bugs but no where near as many as with ActiveX).

    Of course, if you are creating an Intranet (a web local to a company) then by all means use all of the ActiveX controls that you want. In this case, you have far more control over the user environment that you have on the web.

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