Internet Explorer 7 Thinks Protected Mode Is Off

An alert client of mine called me in to “fix” a problem with their browser. IE7 was indicating in the status bar at the bottom of the window that Protected Mode was off. (see illustration)

Going to the Tools menu, I opened Internet Options and clicked the Security tab. Protected mode was showing as enabled!! What gives??

A little investigation on the web revealed that this happens on Vista systems when you disable User Account Control, the annoying little grey screen pop that occurs every time you try to change a setting or install a program in Vista. I had in fact disabled UAC for this user at her request. So it turned out that this is “normal.”

Unfortunately she had spent 2 hours the day before on the phone with Dell (new laptop), McAfee (her AV), and Comcast (her ISP). None of them had the answer, which I guess is ok, but they of course pointed the finger at each other instead of being helpful. It took me 5 minutes and 5 seconds to find the answer – five minutes checking settings and scratching my head, and 5 seconds typing “IE7 says Protected Mode is off” into Google.

So…the moral of the story? Don’t call Dell, McAfee, Comcast, or WyzGuys for that matter without first describing your problem in a Google search box. The answer may be, and probably will be found there.


About the Author:

I am a cybersecurity and IT instructor, cybersecurity analyst, pen-tester, trainer, and speaker. I am an owner of the WyzCo Group Inc. In addition to consulting on security products and services, I also conduct security audits, compliance audits, vulnerability assessments and penetration tests. I also teach Cybersecurity Awareness Training classes. I work as an information technology and cybersecurity instructor for several training and certification organizations. I have worked in corporate, military, government, and workforce development training environments I am a frequent speaker at professional conferences such as the Minnesota Bloggers Conference, Secure360 Security Conference in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, the (ISC)2 World Congress 2016, and the ISSA International Conference 2017, and many local community organizations, including Chambers of Commerce, SCORE, and several school districts. I have been blogging on cybersecurity since 2006 at

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