IE 11 will have better default securityWindows 8.1 will include Internet Explorer (IE) 11, whose flashiest new feature will be support for multiple windows. The browser’s security enhancements should help keep the new experience exciting, but not scary.
The Enhanced Protected Mode (EPM) that was added in IE 10 will now be turned on by default in the old-style desktop application, instead of just the IE app in the newer Windows UI. When turned on, EPM enables a sandbox-like feature called AppContainer, which restricts IE tabs from accessing sensitive data and system files. Additionally, EPM uses 64-bit tabs, offering more protection against attacks than 32-bit tabs provide.
IE 11 will also let antivirus programs have deeper access to the browser. This will allow binary extensions—like the often exploited ActiveX controls—to be scanned by an antimalware program before they’re executed. This could also reduce the chances of malware infection or attack via rogue extensions and toolbars.
By default, Adobe Flash support will be included with IE 11. Adobe Flash updates will now be distributed via the Windows Automatic Updates (or Group Policy on corporate-managed PCs). This could help reduce the chances of exploits via out-of-date Adobe Flash add-ons.
Windows Defender adds network supportWindows Defender, the native antivirus program provided with Windows, will now include network-behavior monitoring. This will make it easier to detect the newer breed of malware that usually can’t be detected via traditional means, but rather through noticing anomalous activity on your company’s servers. Defender’s traditional virus detection capabilities remain, as well.
Device Encryption embraces all Windows versionsWindows 8 RT is better known for what it lacks than for what it features, but one advantage it’s had over full-fledged Windows 8 is device encryption. This feature will now be available for all Windows 8.1 users. It will be enabled by default on most newer computers shipping with Windows 8.1, as well as supported devices that are upgraded to Windows 8.1 with a clean install.
The encryption is basically a simplified form of the BitLocker encryption feature found in the Pro, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions of Windows 8 and previous versions of Windows. The full BitLocker feature is still available in the Pro and Enterprise editions of Windows 8.1, giving power users and corporations more management capabilities. For consumers who create and use a Microsoft account to log in to Windows 8.1 (or use a domain account on a corporate network), your entire PC or device will be encrypted.