Microsoft Hardens Windows And Office 365 Security As Windows 10 Crosses 400 Million Installs Milestone

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Computer users are living in a digital world where their data is increasingly coming under attack. While governments and even news organizations are being threatened by hackers from around the global, John and Jane Smith also have to deal with increasing levels of malware and ransomware everywhere they turn. To help combat these security threats, Microsoft is beefing up security in some if its most popular software products: Windows 10 and Office 365.

In an effort to strangle phishing emails, 90 percent of which hijack your browser to launch an attack, Microsoft has introduced Windows Defender Application Guard for Microsoft Edge. If a link included in an email directs the user to a site that your origination deems untrustworthy, it will launch Edge in an isolated session. Microsoft has provided obvious visual clues to let the user know that they are in a protected, virtualized environment that is safe from malware, viruses, and zero-day attacks. 

This protection scheme isolates your data, the underlying operating system, and other critical components from vulnerabilities. When the user closes out the Edge session that is protected using Application Guard, any potential malware that hitched a ride during that session is vaporized. The downside is that any cookies or saved form-data that was amassed during the Edge browsing session will also be deleted when the browser is closed. That’s the price to pay for additional security.

Windows Defender Application Guard for Microsoft Edge will initially be available to Windows Insiders to try out, and then will roll out to Windows 10 Enterprise E3 and E5 plans in 2017.

Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection and Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection will take a page from United States intelligence agencies’ playbook by sharing intelligence data. This will effectively allow IT professionals better ascertain and respond to critical threats. Microsoft has also expanded Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection to encompass Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business.

Microsoft also announced Office 365 Threat Intelligence, which allows IT professionals to pinpoint the source of individual attacks by analyzing data across Windows, Office and Azure platforms. It integrates with existing security event management systems, and Microsoft says that it also “enables customers to deploy dynamic policies based on the nature of the threat.”

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In other news, Microsoft announced that Windows 10 has surpassed the 400 million installs mark. Windows 10 adoption has slowed considerably since Microsoft’s free upgrade offer expired over the summer. Microsoft had originally projected that Windows 10 would be installed on over a billion devices sometime in 2018, but it has since backed down from those lofty claims.