Browsium

Knowledge Base

Using the Feature Control Manager in Ion

Applies To

Ion 2.x

Summary

Starting with IE6 for Windows XP SP2 and continuing through IE7, IE8 and IE9, Microsoft included ways to toggle new security features and behaviors on and off in their newer browsers. These toggles, called FEATURE CONTROL KEYS (or FCKs), give corporations a way to turn off new features in the browser for the sake of compatibility with their older applications. While the keys themselves are useful, their implementation in IE by default is problematic: by turning new security features off for compatibility with one corporate application, you are in effect turning that feature off for the entire browser, even when the user is visiting sites on the open Internet. Ion allows you to toggle these FCKs on a per-profile basis, allowing you to toggle the behavior only where and when you need it, but keep your browser secure when your users are browsing Internet sites.

 

Feature specifics

Via the Ion Configuration Manager, IT administrators can instruct Ion profiles to toggle any FCK on or off (or to whatever value is allowed by each FCK). This change affects only that specific Ion Profile, and does not affect other Ion profiles nor the native IE browser on the system. This allows IT administrators to leverage the FCKs to achieve compatibility with their corporate application while maintaining recommended feature & security defaults in the host browser when users are browsing the Internet.

 

More about FCKs

Microsoft has added over 50 FCKs to Internet Explorer: about 2 dozen in IE6, about a dozen more in each of IE7 and IE8, and a half-dozen new FCKs in IE9. Below is the list of keys that Ion supports directly via the Feature Control Manager, sorted by browser version:

FCKs added in XPSP2 (IE6)

  • ActiveX Binding Safety Checks
  • ActiveX Object Caching
  • ActiveX Update Restriction
  • Binary Behavior Security
  • Clipboard Script Control
  • Cross Domain Capture Event
  • Cross Domain Redirection
  • Drag and Drop URL Format
  • File Download Restrictions
  • Image MIME Type Determination
  • Information Bar Handling
  • Local Machine Lockdown
  • MIME Type Determination
  • MIME Type Handling
  • MK Protocol Support Protocol
  • Lockdown Resource Protocol Restriction
  • Save Dialog Button Hiding
  • SHDOCLC.DLL Resource Loading
  • SSL Security Alert Display
  • Tabbed Browsing Shortcuts and Notifications
  • UNC File Support for Mark-of-the-Web
  • Usernames and Passwords in URLs
  • Zone Elevation
  • Zone Handling for Missing Files
  • Zone String Loading

FCKs added in IE7

  • Address and Status Bar Display
  • Feeds
  • Frame Content Modification
  • Input Prompt Blocking
  • Legacy Compression Support
  • Local Image Blocking
  • Local Object Blocking
  • Local Script Blocking
  • Script URL Mitigation
  • Security Certificate Revocation Failure
  • Status Bar Updated Frequency
  • Telnet Protocol Support

 FCKs added in IE8

  • About Protocol Restriction
  • AJAX Connection Events
  • Application Protocol Confirmation
  • Circular References in Script Management
  • DOM Storage API Support
  • Frame Content Security
  • HTTP 1.0 Connection Maximum
  • HTTP 1.1 Connection Maximum
  • Named Windows Isolation
  • Navigation Sound Support

FCKs added in IE9

  • Child Window Clipping
  • Debugging Network Traffic Requests
  • GPU Rendering
  • Inline Frame Mailto Threshold
  • IViewObject Legacy Drawing
  • Structured Storage Detection

 

Using this feature in Ion

Ion allows you to toggle the behavior of all of these keys individually on a per-profile basis. For any given profile that you’ve created in the Ion Configuration Manager, simply select the “Feature Control Manager” node for that profile, find the behavior you want to change, and make that change in the UI, as shown below:

FCK1

 

Changes made to any Ion profile to not affect other Ion profiles, nor do they affect the behavior of the default host browser on the system. This allows you to maximize compatibility without compromising security.

 

Further reading

The Ion Configuration Manager’s built in help documentation & Ion Administrators Guide both detail what these keys do. Microsoft also has a variety of MSDN articles and blog posts that discuss some of the keys. Here is a (non-exhaustive) list of articles that relate to FCKs that Microsoft has published:

  • Introduction to Feature Control Keys (for XPSP2 / IE6 and IE7) (link)
  • IE8 Extensibility Improvements (written by Browsium’s own CTO!) (link)
  • An A-Z guide to IE FCKs (through IE9) (link)
  • Security and Compatibility in IE7 (link)
  • AJAX Connectivity Enhancements in IE8 (link)

 

Posted in: Ion Knowledge Base

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