Microsoft recommends that users use Protected Mode in IE7 or IE8 and enable firewall and anti-virus software to minimize risk. I recommend using Firefox or Chrome , they are many times faster than IE and many time better in many ways.
I never use Internet Explorer. I have it in my PC but I never use it. The reason why i never use it is because it is very slow. Aside from that I also know that I will be more vulnerable to attacks if I use this browser, IE is not really secure. I wonder why many people are still using it. Microsoft lately has acknowledged the fact that Internet Explorer 8, like IE 5, IE6, and IE7, is vulnerable to attacks. Read their advisory here.