According to Microsoft Windows 8 blog, Windows Defender in Windows 8 will include real-time anti-virus protection. Currently Windows Defender protects the system from adware and spyware.
For anti-virus Microsoft now has Security Essentials, with Windows 8 it seems the products will finally be merged in to one product. If this impacts anti-trust issues remains to be seen. In my opinion Microsoft is entitled to protect their own product and customers.
Microsoft announced more ant-malware enhancements in protection and performance:
Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR). ASLR was first introduced in Windows Vista and works by randomly shuffling the location of most code and data in memory to block assumptions that the code and data are at same address on all PCs. In Windows 8, we extended ASLR’s protection to more parts of Windows and introduced enhancements such as increased randomization that will break many known techniques for circumventing ASLR.
Windows kernel. In Windows 8, we bring many of the mitigations to the Windows kernel that previously only applied to user-mode applications. These will help improve protection against some of the most common type of threats. For example, we now prevent user-mode processes from allocating the low 64K of process memory, which prevents a whole class of kernel-mode NULL dereference vulnerabilities from being exploited. We also added integrity checks to the kernel pool memory allocator to mitigate kernel pool corruption attacks.
Windows heap. Applications get dynamically allocated memory from the Windows user-mode heap. Major redesign of the Windows 8 heap adds significant protection in the form of new integrity checks to help defend against many exploit techniques. In addition, the Windows heap now randomizes the order of allocations so that exploits cannot depend on the predictable placement of objects—the same principle that makes ASLR successful. We also added guard pages to certain types of heap allocations, which helps prevent exploits that rely on overrunning the heap.
Internet Explorer. “Use-after-free” vulnerabilities represented nearly 75% of the vulnerabilities reported in Internet Explorer over the last two years. For Windows 8, we implemented guards in Internet Explorer to prevent an attacker from crafting an invalid virtual function table, making these attacks more difficult. Internet Explorer will also take full advantage of the ASLR improvements provided by Windows 8.
The improvements to Windows Defender will help protect you from all types of malware, including viruses, worms, bots and rootkits by using the complete set of malware signatures from the Microsoft Malware Protection Center, which Windows Update will deliver regularly along with the latest Microsoft antimalware engine. This expanded set of signatures is a significant improvement over previous versions, which only included signatures for spyware, adware, and potentially unwanted software.
In addition, Windows Defender will now provide you with real-time detection and protection from malware threats using a file system filter, and will interface with Windows secured boot, another new Window 8 protection feature.
When you use a PC that supports UEFI-based Secure Boot (defined in the UEFI 2.3.1 specification), Windows secured boot will help ensure that all firmware and firmware updates are secure, and that the entire Windows boot path up to the antimalware driver has not been tampered with. It does this by loading only properly signed and validated code in the boot path. This helps ensure that malicious code can’t load during boot or resume, and helps to protect you against boot sector and boot loader viruses, as well as bootkit and rootkit malware that try to load as drivers.
The same interfaces for secured boot used by Windows Defender, as well as all APIs used by Windows Defender, are available for use by our antimalware partners to deliver additional protection to Windows customers.
- Improved user experience. We have designed Windows Defender to be unobtrusive for most daily usage, and will notify you only when you need to perform an action, or critical information demands your attention. Windows Defender will also use the new Windows 8 maintenance scheduler to limit interruptions.
- Improved performance. Traditionalantimalware technologies are well known for impacting system performance. It’s not uncommon that running antimalware software doubles the amount of time required for core scenarios like file copy and boot. As you read in last week’s blog entry, we have a lot of people working on system performance and Windows Defender dramatically improves performance on all key scenarios compared to common antimalware solutions on Windows 7, while maintaining strong protection. For example, Windows Defender with its full protection functionality enabled adds only 4% to boot time, while dramatically reducing CPU time during boot by 75%, disk I/O by around 50MB, and peak working set by around 100MB.
These same improvements benefit energy efficiency, meaning Windows Defender consumes less power, and gives you longer battery life.
Antimalware partners can participate during the Windows 8 development process so you have the best possible Windows PC experience no matter what antimalware solution you choose. We provide them with resources, such as the technical details of how we architected the performance improvements for Windows Defender, so they have the opportunity to make similar improvements to their products.