Microsoft revealed on Thursday a set of security improvements built into Windows 8.
Windows 8 will include an array of security features to better protect end users against a variety of online threats. Microsoft is beefing up its Windows Defender solution to include improved protection for a range of malware. “The improvements to Windows Defender will help protect you from all types of malware, including viruses, worms, bots and rootkits,” said Microsoft’s Jason Garms in a blog post on Thursday.
Microsoft will deliver the same set of malware signatures via Windows Update. Defender will now include real-time detection and protection from malware using a file system filter. Defender will also interface with Microsoft’s secure boot technology in Windows 8. Windows PCs with UEFI-based secure boot will be able to take advantage of Microsoft’s Windows security to ensure firmware and firmware updates all remain secure. Microsoft is able to achieve this by loading only properly signed and validated code during boot. “This helps ensure that malicious code can’t load during boot or resume, and helps to protect you against boot sector and boot loader viruses, as well as bootkit and rootkit malware that try to load as drivers,” said Garms.
Microsoft has overhauled the Windows Defender user experience too. Updates will no longer continually pop up, a user will simply be reminded that their PC is going to restart soon with a message in the lower right of the Metro interface. The performance of Windows Defender has also been greatly improved. Microsoft is doing some important work in Windows 8 as a whole and Defender adds only 4% CPU use to boot time. The improvements will also result in improved battery life as defender consumes less power.
Despite the improvements to Defender, Microsoft says it’s also working with other security vendors to ensure their apps are also improved with Windows 8. “We’re continuing to work with antimalware partners during the Windows 8 development process so you have the best possible Windows PC experience no matter what antimalware solution you choose,” said Garms.
The final piece of Microsoft’s security puzzle is the improvement in SmartScreen filtering for Windows and Internet Explorer. Microsoft has extended its browser technology to Windows as a whole. Windows 8 will now protect end users by checking applications and URLs against reputation-based database. The technology appears to be working on existing solutions. “Telemetry data shows 95% of Internet Explorer 9 users are choosing to delete or not run malware when they receive a SmartScreen application reputation warning,” revealed Garms. Windows 8 will warn users against apps that have little to no reputation or are a risk. “We’ve seen dramatic results with this approach in Internet Explorer,” said Garms. “We’re happy to bring it to a broader set of Windows scenarios.”