Technology Harden the Security of your Windows Computer for Free

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Stroganoff

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Update December 2018: The two free products in this thread are discontinued or End-of-Life, making this thread mostly obsolete.

1. Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit has been discontinued and is only available as part of the paid Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium (for home use) and Malwarebytes Endpoint Protection (for business). I have zero affiliation with Malwarebytes and will not use SDN as a platform to push their paid products.

2. Microsoft Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) 5.52 is now End-of-Life, and Microsoft has discontinued support for it. It is still free and valid for Windows 7 and Windows 8.x, but it no longer works in Windows 10. Instead, Windows 10 has incorporated some/most of EMET's functionality into Windows Defender Security Center --> App & browser control --> Exploit protection --> Exploit protection settings. Modifying these settings is for advanced users only.

Source: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/2458544/the-enhanced-mitigation-experience-toolkit
Microsoft said:
End of Life Statement

We have listened to customers' feedback regarding the January 27, 2017 end of life date for EMET and we are pleased to announce that the end of life date is being extended 18 months. The new end of life date is July 31, 2018. There are no plans to offer support or security patching for EMET after July 31, 2018. For improved security, we recommend that customers migrate to the latest version of Windows 10.

----------------------- Original Thread from 2015 ----------------------------

tl;dr: This thread is not about anti-virus or anti-malware but about hacking prevention tools that work side-by-side your antivirus/anti-malware tools.

Note: Only do this on your personally-owned computers or systems with which you are authorized.



Sup? I haven't geeked out in this forum in a bit, but I finally learned some things I'd been meaning to learn about for a long time and wanted to share with you just how stupid easy it is to add some layers of protection to common Internet-facing applications we all run on our machines, namely web browsers.

Nowadays, many hacking attempts, attacks, and exploits occur against weaknesses (think of them as aneurysms in your applications) in web browsers and other Internet-facing applications. If a website -- even a legitimate one -- is compromised, it can be used as a vector to deliver malware into your computer or a direct injection of an undocumented method to break into your machine and take control of it.

<Large part of original post redacted due to outdated information>

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tl;dr: This thread is not about anti-virus or anti-malware but about hacking prevention tools that work side-by-side your antivirus/anti-malware tools.

Note: Only do this on your personally-owned computers. It's likely you are not local administrator of your company-assigned computer, and of course this will only increase the security of said company computer, but good luck with the ensuing politics. :p



Sup? I haven't geeked out in this forum in a bit, but I finally learned some things I'd been meaning to learn about for a long time and wanted to share with you just how stupid easy it is to add some layers of protection to common Internet-facing applications we all run on our machines, namely web browsers.

Nowadays, many hacking attempts, attacks, and exploits occur against weaknesses (think of them as aneurysms in your applications) in web browsers and other Internet-facing applications. If a website -- even a legitimate one -- is compromised, it can be used as a vector to deliver malware into your computer or a direct injection of an undocumented methodology to break into your machine and take control of it.



Quick and Easy: Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit (MBAE)

Skillset Required: None. Beginner.
Time Required: 5 minutes
Cost: Completely free. No nagging.
Link: Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit

I love Malwarebytes the company, and their product Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is something any Windows machine should have on it, at least the free version that you run once a week or so. That's where they earned their reputation.

They make another free product called Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit.

The free version has "shields" of protection against:
  • Browsers: Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera
  • Java

The paid version adds shields for Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.), Adobe Reader, Media Player, and other apps.

Since our browsers are the biggest Internet-facing apps, you get a lot of protection for free.

Steps
1. Download.
2. Install.

That's it. There is NO configuration. There is NO maintenance. There are NO "definition" or "signature" files that you're used to seeing with your anti-virus or anti-malware tools. It uses very little RAM and never bothers you. But it protects you against many kinds of attacks and exploits.


For more free protection of other apps: Microsoft Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) 5.5

Skillset Required: Intermediate
Time Required: 20-30 minutes.
Cost: Completely free. No nagging.
Link: Download Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) 5.5 from Official Microsoft Download Center

Microsoft makes an enterprise-grade tool that works perfectly fine on a home computer and works in conjunction with Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit. I have both running and don't even know they're there. EMET does require some fine-tuning or the protected apps can become unstable and crash.

Out of the box, you get protection for:
  • Internet Explorer
  • Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader
  • Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Visio, Lync, Publisher, Infopath)
  • Java
  • WordPad (lol)

But you can easily add other apps to protect very easily. I added Chrome.exe, Firefox.exe, and vlc.exe on my work computer and Skype on my home computer.

Steps
1. Download.
2. Install. Just use "Recommended Settings" when it asks you.
3. Change the "Quick Profile Name" to "Maximum security settings."
4. Click on the "Apps" button to open up the Application Configuration page with a lot of checkboxes where you can turn on and off various protections for each app.
5. Important: In order to have both EMET and Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit running on the same machine, you have to turn off some protections in EMET, such as for Internet Explorer. It's some trial-and-error, HOWEVER I attached a screenshot of the settings I'm using on my work computer. The bold-faced apps are out of the box, and the non-bold apps are the ones I added for additional protection. Like in order for Firefox and IE to be protected by both EMET and MBAE, I had to turn off EAF protection in EMET (but EAF+ protection is fine) and some others like SimExecFlow and ASR. In other words, if you make your checkboxes look like the ones below it should be stable.

qNm7IzU.jpg

Best defense is a good offense.

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