The newest version of Windows (Windows 8) will have enhanced layers of security throughout the Operating System.
First, Microsoft will include a hardened version of Windows Defender in its next OS. Windows Defender, meanwhile, is being reconfigured to use the full set of malware signatures from the Microsoft Malware Protection Center. Previous versions only included the signatures for spyware and adware.
This is clearly a move that third-party antivirus and malware protection providers aren’t going to be thrilled with. The security software industry is a $16.5 billion industry after all.
Microsoft is also boosting OS-level security as well as an enhanced set of what Microsoft calls “mitigations”–a set of features built to disrupt or disable malicious code.
Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) a new “mitigation”, shuffles the location of code and data on the user’s hard drive in order to frustrate hackers’ assumptions about where the information is located. Microsoft increased the level of randomization in Windows 8.
Similarly, continuous bits of memory (heaps) have also been randomized to defend against attacks. Guard pages have also been added to counter hacks that attempt to exploit heap overflows.
Also, user-mode processes have been tweaked so that the low 64K of process memory cannot be allocated, which helps protect against a number of kernel-mode vulnerabilities.
Microsoft has also hardened browser security. Explorer 10, which is designed to work with Windows 8, will also feature a number of new built-in countermeasures.
Guards have been implemented to defend against “use after free” memory vulnerabilities which, according to Microsoft, accounted for 75% of all Explorer vulnerabilities reported in the past two years.
All in all, Microsoft seem to be taking security extremely seriously in this Operating System.
That can only be a good thing…