Advanced Windows Security: Activating SEHOP

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 16, 2012
Updated • Jul 16, 2012
Security, Windows, Windows tips

When you browse the Internet for security tips and suggestions, you will notice that they sound alike on the majority of sites. Use antivirus and a firewall, update your system all the time, don't click on links in emails, and so on.

Today I'm going to discuss a topic that you won't find in the majority of security tips for Windows. SEHOP, which stands for Structured Exception Handler Overwrite Protection, is a security feature that Microsoft integrated into Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. It is enabled by default on Server 2008 but disabled in Vista. SEHOP was included in the next iteration of Windows client and server as well, again enabled on Server 2008 R2 and disabled on Windows 7.

The feature prevents attackers from exploiting certain software vulnerabilities to successfully attack a system. It is basically a mitigation technique to prevent successful exploits of vulnerable software on the PC. Even if you update your PC and software as soon as updates get released, you may still have vulnerable software on it when attackers find vulnerabilities that are not known yet for instance.

by Microsoft

If you are interested to find out more about SEHOP, I suggest you check out an article on Microsoft's Technet website that explains the concept in detail.

Before I'm going to explain how you can enable SEHOP for all applications, it needs to be noted that there may be application incompatibilities. Microsoft notes that most programs should be compatible with SEHOP. Because of that, Microsoft has created options to enable or disable validation for processes individually and for all applications.

Activating SEHOP on Vista and Windows 7

Probably the easiest way to get started is to enable SEHOP for all applications and turn it off for applications that are not fully compatible (which you will notice when working with them in Windows).

A Fix It is available that you can run on your computer to enable SEHOP for all applications. You can download it directly from this link.

The Fix It tool creates a System Restore point before it enables SEHOP for all processes on the system. A restart of the PC is required afterwards before the changes take effect.

If you prefer to enable it in the Registry manually, you can do so as well:

  1. Use the Windows-r shortcut to bring up the runbox, type regedit in the box and hit enter afterwards. This loads the Windows Registry Editor.
  2. Browse to the following Registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\kernel\DisableExceptionChainValidation
  3. If you can't find DisableExceptionChainValidation under kernel create the key by right-clicking on kernel, selecting New > Dword, and entering DisableExceptionChainValidation as the name
  4. Double-click DisableExceptionChainValidation and set the value to 0 to enable it
  5. Exit the Registry Editor and restart the PC

To disable SEHOP again, you simply change the value from 0 to 1.

SEHOP for individual processes

If you are experiencing issues with select processes after enabling SEHOP, you may want to disable the security feature for those processes. For that, you again need to open the Registry Editor and navigate to the following key:

  • If you are running a 32-bit version of Windows: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options
  • If you are running a 64-bit version of Windows: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options

If you do not know, you can either find out if you are running a 32-bit or 64-bit system, or simply try to locate the Wow6432Node key in the Registry. If it exists, you are running a 64-bit version of Windows.

Under that key you may find a list of processes, and it is here that you need to add the processes that you want to enable or disable SEHOP for.

  1. Right-click on the Image File Execution Options key and select New > Key from the options. Enter the process name exactly as it shows up on the system, i.e. iexplore.exe for Microsoft Internet Explorer.
  2. Right-click the process afterwards and select New > Dword from the context menu. Enter DisableExceptionChainValidation as the name of the new value
  3. Double-click DisableExceptionChainValidation and set it to 0 to enable SEHOP for the process, or to 1 to disable it.

Tutorials & Tips

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  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–Error-Message-of-Windows-11-Update-KB5029351-Preview-142215

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–caused-BSOD-on-MSI-s-Intel-700-and-600-Series-Motherboards-142277

  14. Raphael Benzo said on September 24, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    I try to disable the Diagnostics Tracking Service (Connected Devices Platform User Services) but it wont let me disable it, any help will be greatly appreciated.
    Tank you for your help

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