Microsoft SmartScreen Update Now Protects Users from Drive-by Attacks

By: Ivan Jenic
2 minute read

The fight between operating systems and various malicious software is eternal. “Bad guys” are constantly developing new ways to get into users’ computers, and software developers are constantly trying to stop them. One of Microsoft’s contributions to users’ safety in Windows 10 is the introduction of SmartScreen Filter, a feature for Internet Explorer 11 and Microsoft Edge that stops you from downloading malicious software.

SmartScreen Now Protects You from Drive-by Attacks and Zero-day Exploits

Recently, Microsoft improved SmartScreen feature even more, by delivering an update which allows this security feature to protect users from so-called drive-by attacks.

If you’re not familiar with the term ‘drive-by attack,’ here’s a short explanation. A drive-by attack is a form of malware delivery technique, but unlike traditional forms, it doesn’t require you to download anything to implant a malicious software into your computer, a simple visit to a site is enough to become a target of the drive-by attack. Drive-by attacks also exploit zero-day vulnerability of the software.

Microsoft has stated that the latest update for SmartScreen allows it to protect users from zero-day exploits, like infamous ‘HanJuan EK’ exploit, that was discovered last year, which ‘used’ a vulnerability of Adobe’s Flash Player.

Microsoft developed the new drive-by protection for SmartScreen according to data collected for the past one year by a variety of data sources, including Bing, the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET), Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, SmartScreen, and Windows Defender. So, it’s a plus for Microsoft’s policy of collecting users’ data.

Besides security and functionality updates, Microsoft also enhanced the user experience of SmartScreen with the latest update. When the potentially malicious software or action is detected on a webpage, only the frame will be blocked (see the screenshot below). This is a welcomed change, because previous versions of SmartScreen blocked the entire page with a warning, when a suspicious action was detected (even if the page itself wasn’t malicious).

smartscreen update windows 10

The latest reports show that more users choose third party browsers over Microsoft Edge, and since Microsoft doesn’t want it to end up like Internet Explorer, the company will definitely try hard to make Windows 10’s default browser as competitive as possible. We recently discovered that third-party extensions are coming to Edge, and there will surely be a lot of new features and improvements in the future.

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