Windows 10 Controlled folder access will try to stop ransomware


— 10:00 AM on June 30, 2017

As we get further out from the idea of keeping real, physical records of things, protecting our digital documents is more important than ever. With ransomware like WannaCry out there trying to lock up files for extortion, it's also more complicated than ever. Microsoft is making some security-related additions to the Fall Creators Update that might help mitigate ransomware's effectiveness.

The latest preview build of Windows 10 is available now for those in the Windows Insiders Fast Ring, and it includes a new feature called Controlled folder access. According to Dona Sarkar, head of the Windows Insider program, enabling this setting will ensure that Windows Defender "monitors the changes that apps make to files in certain protected folders." Sarkar goes on to explain that should a non-whitelisted app attempt to alter files in protected folders, it'll be automatically blacklisted and the user will see a notification about the access attempt.

Using it is as simple as finding the Windows Defender area in the Windows 10 settings menu and, clicking into Protected Folders, and adding a directory of your choice. The default list of protected folders includes Documents, Pictures, Movies, and Desktop. Altough users are free and encouraged to add folders they want protected to that list, the defaults can't be altered—possibly to prevent malware from doing exactly that. Network-shared folders are equally eligible for protection.

Similarly, users get to pick and choose which applications are trusted to access protected folders, in a manner not too dissimilar to Android and iOS' permission settings. Ars Technica notes that common applications will be automatically whitelisted, likely in a bid to make users' life easier while still providing a degree of safety.

The Fall Creators Update still doesn't have a release date, but I bet if you read the name, you can narrow it down pretty well.

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