The latest Windows 10 update is due to arrive in early 2017. Dubbed the “Creators Update,” Windows 10 Build 1703 is packed full of new and updated creative tools. However, creativity isn’t all the update will deliver. The new Windows 10 build also features a host of security features for both home and enterprise users. As well as empowering creativity, security is getting a welcome boost, too.
What can we expect in the upcoming update? Where is the security boost coming from? Let’s cast a security minded-eye over Windows 10 Build 1703.
Windows 10 Security
Rob Lefferts, Director of Program Management, Windows Enterprise and Security, says the update will “deliver new features and capabilities for modern IT and bring even more security advancements to our enterprise customers as IT administrators drive digital transformation to optimize operations, enhance productivity and maintain the most secure environment possible.”
One of the central features of the update is the Windows Security Centre. The Windows Security Centre actually arrived with the Anniversary Update, back in August 2016. However, new features include a centralized security management portal that integrates with third-party services, as well as updates to Windows Defender Advanced Threat protection. Furthermore, enterprise solutions will receive enhanced mobile application management for employee owned devices: making BYOD schemes that bit safer.
Enterprise customers have plenty to look forward to. But the benefits of the new security features will filter through to Home and Pro users, like you and I. For instance, when Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) was announced, Microsoft gave us a real-world example of exactly how it works. A previously unknown cryptolocker variant was noticed to be deleting System Restore Points before beginning the encryption process. ATP flagged and isolated the unusual behavior, enabling the infection to be dealt with. This advanced response bodes well for future security updates for retail users.
Unusual behavior is a strong indicator that something is wrong. As such, ATP is receiving additional detection capabilities. ATP currently scans files, network traffic, and behavioral patterns. The update adds the ability to detect in-memory payloads and kernel exploits.
These are increasingly common attack vectors, simultaneously damaging without leaving a memory-trace. New malware variants that modify the memory of other processes to remain obscured will be better highlighted and detailed, allowing for concise analysis and removal.
Furthermore, ATP will receive a better arsenal for battle. That is, suspicious machines will be easier to isolate from the rest of the network, as well as collecting forensics and having individual files and processes quarantined.
Microsoft added FireEye iSIGHT Threat Intelligence to their own threat intelligence program. The coming update will allow administrators to “feed their own intelligence into the Windows Security Centre for alerts on activities based on their own indicators of compromise.” Working in combination with machine learning models, malware should be blocked quicker than ever before.
Security Management in Windows 10
Microsoft is also working to improve Windows 10 security management. Windows 10 telemetry received a significant amount of criticism — it is a vital tool for many IT managers. Windows Upgrade Analytics, released in September 2016, uses the telemetry data to provide administrators an advanced overview of their systems.
The system already allows for application, hardware, and driver tracking, as well as an overview of which aspects might cause issues when upgrading to Windows 10. The Creators Update extends this functionality to cover Windows 10 systems, tracking application errors, driver crashes, and a host of other problems. While Home and Pro users can do this on an individual system level, Microsoft is making a concerted appeal to enterprise users, especially concerning telemetry data collection.
The upcoming update also features a tool to help organizations update legacy systems. Windows 7 systems using the legacy PC BIOS and MBR disk partition scheme can be easily upgraded to Windows 10 with the modern UEFI firmware and the increasingly common GPT disk partition scheme. This process is currently a time-consuming, manual process. The update will introduce a handy conversion tool.
Making BYOD Safer
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) schemes receive understandable scrutiny. They place both employee and employer at risk in a time when data proliferation and the potential breaches is higher than ever. Microsoft is implementing new features that protect corporate data on personally owned devices, even when the device isn’t enrolled in a mobile device management scheme.
Personal security is a major concern for many employees, balancing corporate data security versus ceding personal security to the company. The Creators Update introduces application-specific protection policies without requiring employees to relinquish control of their entire device. Furthermore, it diminishes the requirement of IT groups or administrators to individually manage devices — a big bonus when you’re taking your laptop to work!
What It All Means for You
Security in the upcoming Windows 10 update certainly focuses on enterprise customers. IT managers and system administrators have a host of new tools to keep networks secure and analyze the post-infection or post-breach landscape.
These tools also arrive at a somewhat critical juncture for data protection in the U.S. and European Union. The requirements of the US-EU Privacy Shield agreement and the incoming EU General Data Protection Regulation are increasing the pressure on businesses to keep consumer data safer than ever before.
Microsoft has committed to Windows-as-a-service, and the continued development and implementation of new features sends a strong message to home and enterprise users alike.
Do you think Windows 10 is more secure? Should there be a bigger focus on consumer security rather than enterprise? Let us know your thoughts below!
Image Credit: Microsoft