Windows 10: Microsoft's new Insider Preview is packed with security features

Microsoft doubles down on enterprise security features ahead of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.

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Enabling Data Persistence when using Microsoft Edge with Application Guard

Microsoft

Microsoft's latest Windows 10 Insider Preview comes with a host of new enterprise security features, including some that are due for the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update that's expected to be released around September.

The new Windows 10 Insider Preview for PCs -- build 16232 -- is available for Insiders in the "fast" ring, and introduces several improvements to Windows Defender Application Guard, exploit protection, and Windows Defender Antivirus as well as several bug fixes.

However, with this release, Windows insiders will stop seeing new versions of Microsoft's inbox app and some features it has been testing, including changes to its Photos app, will temporarily disappear. It's not clear why Microsoft is pausing updates but they will resume in the "near future", according to Dona Sarkar, software engineer for Microsoft's Windows and Devices group.

"This is because some of our inbox apps won't have all the latest new features without getting an update from the Store. It is critical that Insiders are experiencing the same version of Windows that will be released as the default version for all Windows users. Insiders will once again start receiving app updates in the very near future," said Sarkar.

This build brings several Edge-related improvements to Windows Defender Application Guard (WDAG), a container technology based on Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualization platform. The defense-in-depth technique is designed to protect the host machine and kernel if Edge users browser to site that exploits browser flaws.

This update makes it more convenient to use Edge if Application Guard is enabled by having favorites, cookies, and saved passwords persist across Application Guard sessions. "Data Persistence" for Edge needs to be enabled in Group Policy settings available in Windows Components under Windows Defender Application Guard.

Windows Defender Security Center also allows you to audit, configure, and manage Windows system and application exploit mitigation settings even without using Windows Defender Antivirus. The settings are available in the App and browser control page. Microsoft notes that the Exploit Protection feature is a work-in-progress and might not be full functional.

Microsoft has also developed a new feature in Windows Defender Antivirus to protect data from malware, including ransomware. This allow users to protect selected files and folders from "unauthorized changes by unfriendly applications". The feature will notify the admin if a malicious app attempts to make a change to the selected file or folder. Admins also whitelist certain apps to have access to the folder through Controlled folder access.

This security focused update follows Microsoft's announcement this week of new end-to-end security features coming to the Fall Creators Update. One of the key features is Windows Defender Exploit Guard, which brings some features of its Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) to Windows 10. Microsoft has essentially backtracked on its previous plan to discontinue EMET in 2018 as it believed Windows 10 was secure enough without it.

Microsoft has addressed a dozen bugs, including one that prevented updating to the newest build if .NET 3.5 was installed. Microsoft is also working on allowing users to dismiss yellow badged recommendations in Windows Defender Security Center.

More on Microsoft's Windows 10

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