Microsoft on Tuesday announced that the latest version of its Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) includes Windows 10 compatibility, and brings several other enhancements.
The new EMET 5.5 was released with improved configuration of various mitigations via Group Policy Object (GPO) and various EAF/EAF+ pseudo-mitigation performance improvements. Additionally, it packs improved writing of the mitigations to the registry, making it easier to leverage existing tools to manage EMET mitigations via GPO, as well as support for untrusted fonts mitigation in Windows 10.
Initially released in 2009 as a standalone tool for enterprises to better protect their Windows clients, EMET has seen various enhancements over time, aimed at helping all users stay protected against security threats and breaches. As Microsoft puts it, the tool was designed to anticipate, divert, terminate, and block most common actions and techniques that cybercriminals might use to compromise a computer.
In a recent blog post, Microsoft explains that Windows 10 already includes various features and mitigations that essentially make EMET unnecessary. The tool, however, is useful when it comes to protecting down-level systems and legacy applications, as well as for providing Control Flow Guard (CFG) protection for 3rd party software.
The software giant also explains that Device Guard, CFG, and AppLocker are some of the Windows 10 features that provide equivalent (or better) mitigations than EMET. Furthermore, the company notes that, because of technologies such as sandboxing, compiler, and memory management techniques, EMET 5.5 mitigations do not apply to Microsoft Edge.
Windows 10’s Device Guard includes a series of enterprise-related hardware and software security features designed to lock a device down, allowing only trusted applications to run. Microsoft claims that Device Guard offers hardware-based zero-day protection for software running in kernel mode, thus being able to protect the device and Device Guard itself from tampering.
CFG, on the other hand, was meant to analyze and discover locations that indirect-call instructions can reach and to build that knowledge into the binaries. Additionally, it injects a check before every indirect-call in the code, to ensure the target is an expected, safe location, otherwise it the operating system closes the program.
The AppLocker, an app control feature introduced in Windows 7, was meant to help with preventing the execution of unwanted and unknown applications within an organization's network. It can be used in combination with Device Guard to control which apps from trusted publishers are allowed to run.
Microsoft has designed EMET to offer compatibility with most commonly used third-party applications at both at home and in the enterprise ecosystem, ranging from productivity software to music players. It works on a variety of client and server operating systems and can validate Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates against a set of user-defined rules.
The new EMET 5.5 is now available for download with support for Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2, and Windows Vista machines. It also requires .NET Framework 4.5 to be installed.