Zero-Day Exploits. Unpatched security holes. Security weaknesses that the hackers have discovered but haven’t revealed. These security problems are all too common and conventional anti-malware is no help. So what is the PC user to do? Here is some powerful free security software from Microsoft that can help.
It is called the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit or EMET. It has been available for several years but Microsoft has just released a new version EMET 4.0. EMET is a tool that hardens your system against various exploit techniques by making programs run in a restricted mode. Because EMET uses general security methods, it does not have to be updated with signatures for known viruses or for the characteristics of specific programs. EMET works with Windows XP SP3 and up. It requires .NET Framework 4.0. The download link for EMET and a PDF User’s Guide can be found here.
You choose which programs to protect. This latest version of EMET has an option to automatically protect a pre-set group of applications, including Java, Adobe Acrobat, Internet Explorer and any Office apps that may be installed. These are all programs that suffer from frequent zero-day or unpatched security problems. You can add whatever programs you want protected but be aware that some programs won’t work properly with EMET, including Skype and the Google Chrome browser. Check the EMET support forum for help with problems or for information about programs that are incompatible.
As always, be sure to back up your system before making any changes with EMET. Don’t try to protect all your programs at once. Protect them one by one to see if everything works.
- EMET support article at Microsoft Technet
- Description of EMET at Kreb’s on Security
- Tutorial on how to use EMET
And there you have it – a powerful security tool to guard against security exploits that regular anti-malware will miss.
Update: Version 4.1 has been released (link here).
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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs several websites with Windows how-to's, guides, and tutorials, including a site for learning about Windows and the Internet and another with Windows 7 tips.
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