Analytics

10/29/2018
11:40 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
100%
0%

Windows Defender: First Full Antivirus Tool to Run in a Sandbox

Sandboxed version now available to Windows Insiders and anyone else who force-enables it in Windows 10 version 1703 and above.

In a major move for Windows security, Microsoft has built Windows Defender to run in a sandboxed environment.

Microsoft began the process of moving Windows Defender to a sandbox after much input from the security community. Researchers inside and outside the company had detected ways an attacker could abuse flaws in the tool's content parsers and enable arbitrary code execution.

But the project was a "complex undertaking," said Mady Marinescu, of the Windows Defender Engineering team, and Eric Avena of Microsoft Content Experience, in a blog post on the news. The team had to study the implications for performance and functionality, as well as identify high-risk areas to make sure sandboxing didn't counter any existing security measures.

Windows Defender runs with high privileges to scan systems for malicious content; because of this, it's already a prime target for cyberattacks. If someone successfully exploits a bug in Windows Defender, an entire system can be taken over. Microsoft reports it hasn't seen attacks targeting its antivirus tool in the wild, but it has been hardening Windows 10 over time with hardware-based isolation, network protection, controlled folder access, and other tech.

With Windows Defender running in a restrictive process execution environment, attackers who break in are stuck inside the isolated environment and can't affect the rest of the system.

In their post, Mainescu and Avenca detailed the process of balancing functionality and performance in the sandboxing. Microsoft had to, for example, consider risk functions such as scanning untrusted input and expanding containers while minimizing the number of interactions between the Defender components that can be sandboxed and those that must run with full privileges, they said.

Performance is a key concern with sandboxing antivirus tools, which simultaneously run several processes, they explained. To mitigate the risk, the team had to minimize the number of interactions between the sandboxed and privileged processes, and ensure these interactions were only done "in key moments where their cost would not be significant."

The feature is now available to Windows Insiders to test in upcoming versions of Windows 10. If you are not in the program and can't wait for Microsoft to release it in full, you can force-enable Windows Defender to run in a sandbox on Windows 10 version 1703 and later.

Microsoft is looking ahead and now working on anti-tempering defenses for Windows Defender Antivirus, it reports.

Related Content:

 

Black Hat Europe returns to London Dec 3-6 2018  with hands-on technical Trainings, cutting-edge Briefings, Arsenal open-source tool demonstrations, top-tier security solutions and service providers in the Business Hall. Click for information on the conference and to register.

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How the US Chooses Which Zero-Day Vulnerabilities to Stockpile
Ricardo Arroyo, Senior Technical Product Manager, Watchguard Technologies,  1/16/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
The Year in Security 2018
This Dark Reading Tech Digest explores the biggest news stories of 2018 that shaped the cybersecurity landscape.
Flash Poll
How Enterprises Are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How Enterprises Are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Data breach fears and the need to comply with regulations such as GDPR are two major drivers increased spending on security products and technologies. But other factors are contributing to the trend as well. Find out more about how enterprises are attacking the cybersecurity problem by reading our report today.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-3906
PUBLISHED: 2019-01-18
Premisys Identicard version 3.1.190 contains hardcoded credentials in the WCF service on port 9003. An authenticated remote attacker can use these credentials to access the badge system database and modify its contents.
CVE-2019-3907
PUBLISHED: 2019-01-18
Premisys Identicard version 3.1.190 stores user credentials and other sensitive information with a known weak encryption method (MD5 hash of a salt and password).
CVE-2019-3908
PUBLISHED: 2019-01-18
Premisys Identicard version 3.1.190 stores backup files as encrypted zip files. The password to the zip is hard-coded and unchangeable. An attacker with access to these backups can decrypt them and obtain sensitive data.
CVE-2019-3909
PUBLISHED: 2019-01-18
Premisys Identicard version 3.1.190 database uses default credentials. Users are unable to change the credentials without vendor intervention.
CVE-2019-3910
PUBLISHED: 2019-01-18
Crestron AM-100 before firmware version 1.6.0.2 contains an authentication bypass in the web interface's return.cgi script. Unauthenticated remote users can use the bypass to access some administrator functionality such as configuring update sources and rebooting the device.