Microsoft upgrades Windows with user-centric security feature

Microsoft upgrades Windows with user-centric security feature

"User-Centric Upgrade"

Microsoft has launched a new Windows driver designed to prevent software from altered default browser settings on Windows 10 and 11. This means you can no longer manually tweak these settings via the Registry or tools — the update has removed this functionality.

Don’t worry though! You can still change your default browser, but now you must do so through the Windows settings directly. This means that the shortcut of altering the default browser through the browser’s settings is no longer available. It’s now a case of popping into the Windows settings menu to change your browser.

This change was subtly introduced in the recent updates for Windows 10 (KB5034763) and Windows 11 (KB5034765). The change was unexpectedly discovered by IT professional Christoph Kolbicz. His programs, SetUserFTA and SetDefaultBrowser, lost their effectiveness due to this implementation, causing a bit of a surprise in the IT community.

A bit of background here; Microsoft’s journey to protect file extensions and URL protocols began with the introduction of Windows 8. Basically this means that these elements were linked with default apps to provide a line of defense against cyber threats. The new patches have built on this by linking a file extension or URL protocol to a unique hash in the UserChoice Registry keys.

This change is all about remembering user preferences while keeping a tight lid on security.

Enhancing Windows user security through system settings

If any conflicting or unfamiliar preference tries to alter the setup, the system flags it and verifies its validity. This makes it more difficult for malware to lodge itself into the system, minimizing the risk of harmful ransomware or phishing.

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In these updates, there’s also a brand new Windows filter driver called “User Choice Protection Driver”. It stops alterations of Registry keys linked to HTTP and HTTPS URL associations. Once you’ve chosen a default browser, the “User Choice Protection Driver” locks these associations tight. If something tries to change your browser settings or tweak them via apps, it’ll be met with an ‘Access is Denied’ warning. This aims to keep your choices safe, inhibiting unauthorized changes, while keeping the browser’s operation consistent.

Put simply, these changes highlight Microsoft’s ongoing dedication to user security and keeping system settings locked down against potential threats like malware and unauthorized scripts. These upgrades demonstrate the broad approach that Microsoft is using to deliver solid security solutions for their users. It’s all about going the extra mile to ensure everyone’s digital safety. And that’s something we can all cheer for!


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