Smart security enhancements of Windows 8

Windows 8: 

Microsoft released its desktop operating system Windows 8 one and a half years back and prior to it. It had released a few developers version for beta testing of wide communities and sought their opinions for further development of this wonderful operating system. Since, then many bloggers including me have been writing many articles related with Windows 8 but time and again hidden treasures inside this operating system surprise many with its wonderful fluid interface, brilliant security features coupled with super fast booting and introduction of Linux type booting where hardware manufacture can now tweak it for further conveniences of users. For the first ever time, Microsoft has included its flagship anti malware and integrated deep into the operating system and it drives away all possibilities of installing any such third party anti malware from Norton, Trend Micro, Mcafee or Eset. Its name changes to Windows Defender as the name suggests it defends and protects operating system from outside intrusion and constant flow of malwares. It does not constitute a new feature. Windows Defender was included in all features of past Windows starting from Windows Vista and it can be downloaded as a standalone installer in erstwhile Windows XP. With Windows 8, it is incarnated into a fully fledged anti malware to fully protect your personal computer.

Windows Defender of Windows 8 is a rebadged version of Microsoft security essentials. Its name has been superseded by Windows Defender. In the past with the success of Microsoft Security Essentials in various online tests it feels doomsday for other third party antivirus industries. It provides decent protection and better than any other free antivirus software like Avast. It does not have a wide array of extra features. It runs silently and works in the background. It does not show in the taskbar but is running inside operating system and guarding your every action starting from scanning for pen drives, optical discs or accessing files from computer. It does not have a context menu scanning option and this user cannot scan individual files. So, there are two prominent features are missing in Windows Defender of Windows 8. One is the context menu scanning and the other is the icon is not visible inside the taskbar Perhaps this should be the primary reason why Windows Defender is not showing inside taskbar

Windows Defender automatically updates itself through Windows updates. On Windows 8, Microsoft update is hidden deep inside and unlike Windows XP it cannot be done separately as it is built inside and goes on update without any such effort from the user. Many modern computers purchased with Windows 8 will not have Windows Defender as their default antivirus installation. Many hardware manufacturers have been installing third party antivirus programs as and when the user installs these third party programs they receive royalty from them. It is wise not to use such programs as Microsoft is providing wonderful anti malware program namely Windows Defender and it has seamless integration with the operating system. Its interface is smooth and simple. It is quite clear and runs with high speed without any such disturbances and conflict of operating system. Many times it has been seen, many antivirus programs are not running good as they are third party antivirus programs and tend to lag the operating system and make it slow and sluggish. These royalties for computer manufacturers start from $15 to $20 and when considering computers sell in millions the accumulated royalty coming out from installing third party antivirus packages becomes a huge commercial advantage for the computer manufacturer.  Microsoft has provided an escape route for a computer manufacturer to disable default Anti Malware Windows Defender easily.

Strength of Windows Defender: 

In this way, they continue to receive a high degree of royalty from third party antivirus companies in exchange of bundling their software in computers. Though, Microsoft has made it compulsory for all third party antivirus companies to create a clean install and uninstall antivirus. It does not want earlier problems of bad registry entries, leftover files which will make the computer slow and sluggish and changing from one antivirus to the other becomes problematic. With these additional policies, now user can easily swap between different antivirus packages without any difficulties. Strength of Windows Defender is that it does not encourage the user to buy any product or it does not interfere with the search index of users. It does not install third party tool bar or any such adware which can interfere as distinctive spheres of Windows. Google recently announced stricter application advertisement restriction policies for application developers not to bundle advertisement which will appear when a user needs to be involved with application. Of late, user tends to be worried about open adware installation on Android device. Google then revised its application policy and gives a certain time for the user, to remove bundles adware from application otherwise these application will be banned for life. On the other hand, Microsoft has given plenty of scope for stopping such visualisation of adware on its application. It is for sure is that user never loving adware and they do not want it to run while playing games or using the application.

It is unquestionably the most difficult intrusions. In the past, we have seen many such intrusion detection mechanisms where users have to employ intrusion prevention system and try hard to secure system through the implementation of these complex mechanisms. Many a time, such measure will make the computer unbootable and prone to malwares. In the past, we have seen threat-fire as a good software to stop rootkit but it is bloated and makes the system heavy and many a times un-bootable. These newer versions of Windows Microsoft have made some serious overall in coding patterns coupled with advance arrangement with leading computer manufacturers to introduce hardware security on preventing root kit from entering into the system. When root kits affect booting of the computer, it becomes boot kit. Microsoft has introduced some critical changes in Windows 8 to tackle root kit and make it safe for operating system. Boot Kit completely controls system files and boot loader and replaces original boot loading files with its own version boot loader is preliminary files used for booting and when these are not available, then the computer will never be bootable. This was a grave problem with Windows XP, but it seems with Windows 8 most of these problems are solved. Microsoft has also released Windows Defender offline for an older version of Microsoft Windows and it helps other computer to repair bootloader files through optical driver.

Smart security enhancement of Windows 8: 

A big change of Windows 8 security postures is the compulsory requirement of the computer manufacturer to use a new type of firmware called UEFI. Generally, in the past most computer manufacturer use BIOS firmware embedded in the motherboard. The concept of BIOS has been used since IBM first introduced in 1981. Since then, many developments and improvements have been there on BIOS front but it has some limitations. The basic configuration can be amended and this makes the way for hackers to create a sustainable path of intrusion from the path of configuration of hardware and software. These limitations on basic designs directly affect computer security. UEFI is a new technology and originally developed by Intel in 1990s, but subsequently it has been developed by a consortium of hardware manufacturers such as Apple, Microsoft, HP, Ubuntu, Intel, Lenovo and so on. UEFI runs with secure digital booting and it checks for certificates before it loads a boot loader and it is called as secure boot function which is very secure and impracticable in terms of malware attacks. This feature comes with severe criticisms from Linux users who will be in no position to dual boot with Windows. As certificate of Linux-boot will not be recognizable by UEFI and thus it fails to load the boot loader and operating system. Digital signature of Linux-boot will not be recognizable by UEFI. Microsoft has done this deliberately to make a safe place for operating system. In the past, most hackers stole digital certificates from companies and used to boot load through it and gain administrative access to system files. Most of these users are from Linux communities.

In order to calm Linux users, Microsoft specifies to hardware manufacturers to enable secure boot by default but also it says that there should be a mechanism to disable security-but when the user wants it to disable for installing dual operating system. All these terms and conditions are indicated in Microsoft hardware requirements. In the short term with the introduction of rootkit, attack surface and boot kit are completely disabled or driven out from the boot loader for the operating system.

UEFI: 

We do not know whether any hacker will be able to trespass such strong UEFI boot loader system or not but for the time being it is securest operating system ever produced by Microsoft. After UEFI secure boot, which stops any such boot kits to replace default boot loader, Microsoft has introduced a new concept of security known as Early Launch Anti Malware Technology which allows anti malware to load first after secure boot in order to provide full time security to operating system. In the past most serious threat to the Windows operating system has been from initialization of rootkits or stealth mechanisms early from the boot loader and before commencement of programs in an operating system. Windows 8, Microsoft has considerably improved various features of this operating system through the introduction of secure boot and early launch anti malware technology which virtually closes all routes of trespassing of boot kit, rootkit and stealth mechanisms. There are various technologies which can remove such threats but when these malwares start before starting of antivirus software, it poses serious difficulties for third party antivirus software to stop these menaces. ELAM is strictly a detection technology and for the time being because it has no capacity to remove malwares. It stays in between operating system code and time of its execution. It seriously checks for exploits and stops it before it became a catastrophe.

ELAM: 

Once operating system starts loading from the process of the boot loader of UEFI secure boot, it hand over operating system for protection to third party antivirus installed on the system. The technology of ELAM is a major boost to security of the Windows operating system as it poses as deterrents to boot time malware. In the end beginning of boot loader with UEFI secure boot and then the boot-process of checking code hijacking through ELAM and finally operating system loads with Windows Defender as standard user sans administrative rights give exclusive security to the latest version of Windows from Microsoft. In my opinion it is one of the most secure and safe operating system ever done by Microsoft. Keep using it.

How to run Windows Defender in Windows 8?

Smart security enhancement of Windows 8

Step 1: User left click on “Search (button)” in “Charm Bar”

Step 2: User keyboard input on “Search (pane)” in “Search” [… Backspace …]

Step 3: User left click on “Settings (text)” in “Search”

Step 4: User left click on “Windows Defender (edit)” in “Settings Search”

Step 5: User mouse drag start on “Windows Defender (window)” in “Windows Defender”

Step 6: User mouse drag end on “Windows Defender (window)” in “Windows Defender”

Step 7: User left click on “Update (button)” in “Windows Defender”

Step 8: User left click on “History (button)” in “Windows Defender”

Step 9: User left click on “Settings (button)” in “Windows Defender”

Step 10: User left click on “Excluded files and locations (text)” in “Windows Defender”

Step 11: User left click on “Excluded file types (text)” in “Windows Defender”

Step 12: User left click on “Excluded processes (text)” in “Windows Defender”

Step 13: User left click on “Advanced (text)” in “Windows Defender”

Step 14: User left click on “Administrator (text)” in “Windows Defender”

Step 15: User left click on “MAPS (text)” in “Windows Defender”

Step 16: User left click on “Administrator (text)” in “Windows Defender”

Step 17: User left click on “Close (button)” in “Windows Defender”

Windows Defender

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