IE7, IE8 and .exe files on network drive: “The publisher could not be verified…”

I recently upgraded a Windows XP machine from Internet Explorer 6 to IE 8. Since then I’ve been getting warnings whenever I wanted to run any .EXE file that doesn’t use code signing off a network drive.

My main browser on that machine is FireFox, but that doesn’t matter. The warning that comes up is the following:

The publisher could not be verified. Are you sure you want to run this software?

Apparently the same behaviour was already introduced when upgrading to IE 7. It may also happen with Service Pack 3 (SP3) for XP. Unlike for the similar query that happens for executable files downloaded off the Internet, there is no option to turn off the warning for a specific .EXE file.

There is however a way to allow all unsigned EXEs to run off a given network drive or network server without the warning. Here is what you do:

Open the Control Panel, select Internet Options, click the Security tab, select Local intranet, click Sites and the Advanced button. Add any server (e.g. \\myserver) by entering the name and clicking Add. The resources will be added as file://myserver. When you’re done click Close and OK.

This will allow all unsigned applications on the listed servers to execute without security prompt just as if they were on your local machine.

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