While many of the changes in Windows 8 have focused on Metro, speed of booting, and other interface changes, security has seen just as an important of shift in focus.
Microsoft has promised to deliver the most secure version of Windows to date with its newest changes in Windows 8. For those who don’t know, W8 has a new version of Windows Defender that includes anti-virus, malware, and spyware removal capabilities all in one included package.
For those who don’t know much about computers, having a free and easy-to-access anti-virus solution sounds like a dream.
The downside is that WD might not be as secure as other free and paid anti-virus solutions, but the way I see it is that some protection is still better than none at all.
In addition to Windows Defender, we’ve seen a new bootloader that claims to be able to keep out malware even from the start up process. Despite the efforts from the boys at Redmond to beef up security, we are already seeing Windows 8-specific malware.
In a previous post I detailed information about Austrian-based Security Analyst Peter Kleissner and hist new exploit for Windows 8. The exploit only made use of the regular BIOS but still found a way to get past the new bootloading options.
It would load up from the master boot record and make its way through all the phases of startup. The end result was that the hacker would have root access over your entire machine.
The hack by Kleissner was created to showcase how easy it is to exploit Windows 8 booting security. Microsoft responded by creating “Windows Defender Offline”, a tool that is stored on disc or removal flash memory to scan the booting process for such hacks.
While Microsoft is highly dedicated to keeping Windows 8 safe, it is certainly going to have some challenges ahead it seems.
Now according to McAfee they have a few security predictions for 2012 about how malware and security exploits are going to change. According to McAfee the more secure OS environment of W8 is going to discourage traditional system attacks and drive hackers to instead develop malware that comprises hardware directly, instead of software.
Of course at the moment Intel’s unified extensible firmware interface has yet to be hacked and seems like it will be quite the challenge, but it seems that if there is something to be cracked, hackers will in time figure it out.
McAfee’s predictions also surround the idea that hackers will use special functions to effect graphics processor functions, the BIOS, or even the master boot records.
I am fairly certain that hardware hacks are going to be more difficult than McAfee claims and that Microsoft will be on the ball this time around with creating solutions to help protect users.
In addition tools from companies like McAfee and Norton will further make the attacks more difficult.
McAfee also predicts that attacks on mobile devices will continue to gain more attention for hackers as well. This has a lot to do with the fact that smartphones are often used for things like financial transactions, making them a great target for hacking.
I fully agree that mobile phones have become a huge target for hackers, especially thanks to existing vulnerabilities in Google’s Android OS. It seems odd to have an anti-virus program on your game system or phone, but it seems this is becoming more and more necessary these days.
So what do you think about Microsoft’s predictions about malware focusing on mobiles and PC hardware, over the traditional Windows OS types of malware? Do you agree or have a completely different opinion about security in 2012 and beyond? Share your thoughts below.