A few days ago I took a look at SEHOP (Structured Exception Handler Overwrite Protection), a Windows security feature that is disabled by default in Windows Vista and Windows 7, and enabled in Server products. SEHOP adds a mitigation technique to the operating system to prevent attackers from exploiting software vulnerabilities on the system. It is in this regard a pro-active defense mechanism that protects against certain unpatched vulnerabilities.
Chris Earner mentioned EMET in the comments, a Microsoft tool that let you configure SEHOP and other security features in a graphical user interface.
Microsoft's Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit can be downloaded at the official Download Center. The product is compatible with all recent versions of Windows, including Windows XP, Vista and 7, as well as the server operating systems. Some features may however not be available in XP.
The program installs a notifier on the system and a gui application that you can start from the start menu.
It allows you to configure the following security features in a variety of ways on the system:
The program displays the system status of all three features and the status of running processes on startup. Features can either be opt in or opt out for applications, with individual per-process settings available as well.
A click on configure system offers to switch between custom, recommended and maximum security settings. Depending on the selection, features are either changed to opt in our opt out, with the custom setting allowing you to make the selection for each feature individually.
Instead of configuring security features on a global level, you can instead configure them on a per-process level instead. A click on configure apps in the main application window gives you options to configure program executables individually. Additional options are available here: Null Page, Heap Spray, EAF, Bottom-up
Windows 64-bit users need to note that some features are only available for 32-bit processes and not 64-bit processes running on their system. The EMET user guide offers information about the available mitigation techniques, you find it in the program directory on the system.
Please note that adding processes to the application listing may have negative stability effects. While most should work just fine, some may crash or not start at all after you have enabled certain security features in EMET. The EMET Support forum may be of help here.
When it comes to processes to add, it is probably best to look at processes that are attacked more often than others. You may then come up with a list of plugins like Java or Flash, web browsers, Adobe products, Microsoft Office and other high profile programs that you want to add to EMET.
EMET furthermore ships with three protection profiles which you find in the program directory under Deployment. They can be imported into EMET under File > Import in the Application Configuration window. Here it is also possible to export the current security configuration which may be helpful if you want to deploy the same protection on other computer systems. System administrators can use the Group Policy or System Center Configuration Manager to deploy, configure and monitor EMET installations in Enterprise environments.
EMET is an excellent security tool that you can deploy easily on a single PC or across a network of computers. You will spend some time configuring and testing processes, but once that is out of the way, you have added protection to your system that automatically mitigates several popular attack forms.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.