Microsoft Claims Windows 10 Anniversary Update Is Its Most Secure Operating System To Date

Anyone who is looking for a reason to install the Windows 10 Anniversary Update (build 1607) need only consider that there has never been a more secure version of Windows. So says Microsoft, which made the claim in conjunction with a new white paper detailing the ways in which the latest version of Windows protects users from ransomware.

According to Microsoft, an increasing number of cybercriminals are turning to ransomware in search of a quick buck. The Redmond software giant points out that the number of ransomware variants has doubled in the last 12 months alone.

Windows 10

"Its premise is deceptively simple: infect users' devices, and then deny them access to their devices or files unless they pay a ransom. However, the methods and means attackers are using to perpetrate ransomsware attacks are increasingly varied, complex, and costly," Microsoft said.

Armed with that knowledge, Microsoft made a concerted effort to improve built-in defenses against ransomware in Windows 10 with its Anniversary Update. Part of that included toughening its Edge browser to be more resilient towards ransomware, as six of the top 10 ransomware threats use browser or browser-plugin exploits.

"Adobe Flash Player is a common browser plug-in that has been used by exploit writers to download ransomware, so we updated Microsoft Edge to run Flash Player in an isolated container. We have also locked down Microsoft Edge so that an exploit running in the browser cannot execute another program. These improvements block malware from silently downloading and executing additional payloads on customers’ systems," Microsoft added.

Microsoft also tapped into machine learning capabilities to enhance its cloud infrastructure so that its researchers can identify ransomware much quicker. Before the Anniversary Update, Microsoft said the process of collecting a suspicious program for analysis could take hours. Now it takes minutes.

The blog post amounts to a lot of chest thumping, followed by a recommendation to update to the latest build and accept the default security settings. What Microsoft doesn't bring up is that updating Windows can muck with third-party AV programs by disabling them in favor of its own Defender software. Security outfit Kaspersky recently raised a ruckus over how Windows 10 treats third-party AV programs, which in turn led to Russia's antitrust arm opening a case against Microsoft.