Online purchases made in Internet Explorer 7 are to be even more protected in future. The announcement of new security measures was made at this week's RSA Security Conference in San Francisco.

The Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is the protocol used for secure transactions taking place online. The SSL certificate is the piece of data that enables an online transaction to be encrypted - so card numbers are scrambled.

IE7 has support for an even stronger form of these certificates, called Extended Validation, or EV.

Every SSL Certificate is issued by a Certificate Authority, or CA. They verify the identity of the certificate owner. Many Certification Authorities (CAs), including VeriSign and CyberTrust are already issuing EV SSL Certificates.

PayPal is among the first businesses to adopt the standard too.

"I recently read a Gartner survey that discovered nearly $2 billion was lost in e-commerce sales in 2006 due to security concerns," said Jeremy Dallman, the IE program manager at Microsoft. "We certainly hope that IE7 and EV will help to reduce that number."

Bill Gates spoke at the RSA conference two years ago and highlighted IE7's Phishing Filter as one of the major features of the new browser.

"Since IE7 launched in October, the Phishing Filter has blocked more than 10 million attempts to visit known phishing websites," continues Dallman. "It is currently experiencing a rate of over 1 million blocks a week. IE7 users and our data providers are adding nearly 10,000 phishing sites every week to help protect our community of users."