Windows 7, the latest operating system release from Microsoft, has new, as well as improved, security features, and many organizations are preparing for an OS upgrade. In this Windows 7 security guide, we explore the enhancements and mechanisms designed to better protect data and fight viruses, spyware and other malware: Windows 7 DirectAccess, AppLocker, Windows IE 8, BitLocker encryption, Windows 7 firewall settings, a virtual Windows XP mode and more.
How does the security for Windows 7 compare to previous operating system releases? Read our articles below, which feature technical tips from our best infosec expert contributors.
How to use Microsoft Windows 7 AppLocker for whitelisting applications
Applocker, a feature that provides greater security for Windows 7, prevents the execution of unwanted applications, including user-generated spyware and drive-by Trojan downloaders. An improvement upon Windows Software Restriction Policies (SRP), Microsoft Windows 7 AppLocker enables administrators to automate the generation of rules. Proceed slowly, however, when tweaking the application control device's whitelisting capabilities.
Then, in this additional Windows 7 security guide tip, learn how to automate AppLocker rule generation and how to apply those rules once you have AppLocker up and running. Lisa Phifer explains how to use the rule-creation wizard to find all of your programs and enforce a collection of restrictions on them.
WINDOWS 7 DirectAccess
Understand the pros and cons of Microsoft Windows 7 DirectAccess
Microsoft's Windows 7 DirectAccess can help midsized companies gain end-to-edge and end-to-end access remotely, tunneled through a Windows Server 2008 R2 -- all without the use of a VPN.
Is it a novel alternative? Our expert reviews how Windows 7 DirectAccess can be used to access enterprise drives, applications and websites, and more importantly, then decides if the tool has any value compared to a virtual private network.
WINDOWS IE 8
A closer look at Internet Explorer 8 security features
In this Windows 7 security guide article, Tony Bradley reviews the improved features in Windows IE 8: SmartScreen phishing filter protection, InPrivate browsing, as well as accelerators and "Suggested Sites" options to improve the browsing experience. If you're using Internet Explorer 6, you should absolutely make the upgrade, but how does the security of Windows IE 8 stack up against IE 7? Tony Bradley explores browser upgrade challenges and explains when it's best for a midmarket organization to deploy the latest version across an entire organization.
The value of booting from a VHD in Windows 7
Booting from a virtual hard drive (VHD) in Windows 7 is a valuable way to perform operating system tests. By reserving a virtual copy of the operating system, developers can work freely with an environment without concern for the changes being made. Any malware compromises or data breaches that might occur will only affect the virtual operating system. Learn how to boot a virtual hard drive, and protect it like you would any other disk.
BITLOCKER AND BITLOCKER TO GO
How to use BitLocker (and BitLocker To Go) in Windows 7
These Windows data protection features will help you protect and encrypt confidential information on your machines, as well as on removable drives and USB devices. First, learn the basics of Microsoft BitLocker encryption, including the Drive Preparation Tool and the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip that it relies on.
After, in this BitLocker how-to tip from our Windows 7 security guide, Phil Cox reviews how to use the tool's Windows 7 counterpart, BitLocker To Go, to provide security to data stored on USB thumb drives. He also reviews BitLocker Active Directory policies.
WINDOWS 7 FIREWALL
A closer look at Windows 7 firewall settings
Windows 7 firewall settings have evolved for the better. Its three configurable profiles provide more private and secure configurations, and its four firewall settings allow you to make more granular application restrictions. Learn how "Windows Aware" the firewall is, and whether the built-in, standalone firewall is capable of protecting against fundamental exploits.
After you catch up on Windows 7 firewall settings, make sure to read a previous article on how Windows Firewall with Advanced Security improves security for Windows 7.
WINDOWS XP MODE
How to use Windows XP Mode in Windows 7
Learn how to use Windows XP Mode in Windows 7, a complete Windows XP SP3 system run in a Windows Virtual PC virtualized environment. XP Mode integrates seamlessly with Windows 7 to share drives and other resources, while still enabling you to continue using older hardware and software.
What other tips would you like to see featured in our Windows 7 security guide? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.