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Microsoft hardens EMET security tool: OK, it's not invulnerable, but it's free

Hopes to slap down more zero-day attacks...

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Microsoft has beefed up its Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET), adding features designed to block more exploits.

The release of the technical review (beta) version of the tool, EMET 5.0, follows the discovery of new attacks against earlier versions of the technology. EMET 5.0 beta comes with a feature called Attack Surface Reduction that makes it easier for corporate security managers to apply usage policies or block Java, Flash Player and third-party browser plug-ins.

Using the tool, Java, for example, could be enabled for intranet applications but blocked when it comes to sourcing anything from the wilds of the worldwide web. In a similar way, Flash could be allowed to run when executed directly from a browser but blocked from execution in cases where it appears in a PDF or an Office file. The latest version of the tool is "not [yet] ready for wide enterprise deployment," as Redmond security gnomes explain.

Version 5 of EMET also comes with a revamped version of Export Address Table Filtering as well as enabling "deep hooks" mitigation by default. The latter modification is crucial in blocking holes in EMET 4.1 discovered by security researchers at security through virtualisation startup Bromium, and unveiled at the B-Sides security conference in San Francisco earlier this week.

EMET is designed to help reduce risk of attacks that exploit zero-day vulnerabilities. Not even Microsoft claims it is invulnerable and the basic idea is to make life for difficult for would-be attackers, an approach that makes a lot of sense in combating cybercrime, if not more sophisticated state-backed hackers with deeper pockets and more patience. The technology comes at no added charge on Windows boxes. ®

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