In its ongoing fight against Windows vulnerability to ransomware attacks of the past several weeks, Microsoft intends to include a feature in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update that automatically prevents malicious apps like ransomware from accessing folders that are protected. Dubbed ‘controlled folder access’, the new feature essentially protects specifically designated folders and files from being changed by unauthorized applications.
How Does Controlled Folder Access Work?
Designed to protect user data from being locked down by ransomware such as WannaCry and NotPetya, the new feature allows users to define which folders and files are to be protected. When any app tries to modify those protected folders in any way, they are automatically blacklisted, preventing any access to those folders.
In a sense, it is similar to file permissions on the Windows file system, called NTFS, but it differs in two ways: first, it applies to applications as opposed to users; and second, it actively monitors unauthorized access or modification attempts, and blacklists the app, effectively blocking it from making any changes.
That means, when a folder is protected, ransomware applications will not be able to lock down those folders by encrypting them. That doesn’t necessarily provide 100% protection, but it goes a long way in keeping your folders and files secure and free from being tampered with.
In addition to the new feature, which will integrate into the Windows Defender Security Center in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, Microsoft is also bringing in some features of its EMET, or Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit, to the Windows Defender Exploit Guard, which should ideally stop malware from exploiting any existing vulnerabilities.
The latest preview build of Windows 10 already brings in these features, and we should see them in their final form when Windows 10 Fall Creators Update releases later this year.