Protect devices from exploits
Exploit protection automatically applies a number of exploit mitigation techniques on both the operating system processes and on individual apps.
It is part of Windows Defender Exploit Guard. Exploit protection is supported on Windows 10, version 1709 and later and Windows Server 2016, version 1803 or later.
You can visit the Windows Defender Testground website at demo.wd.microsoft.com to confirm the feature is working and see how it works.
Exploit protection works best with Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection - which gives you detailed reporting into exploit protection events and blocks as part of the usual alert investigation scenarios.
You configure these settings using the Windows Security app or PowerShell on an individual machine, and then export the configuration as an XML file that you can deploy to other machines. You can use Group Policy to distribute the XML file to multiple devices at once.
When a mitigation is encountered on the machine, a notification will be displayed from the Action Center. You can customize the notification with your company details and contact information. You can also enable the rules individually to customize what techniques the feature monitors.
You can also use audit mode to evaluate how exploit protection would impact your organization if it were enabled.
Many of the features in the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) have been included in Exploit protection, and you can convert and import existing EMET configuration profiles into Exploit protection. See Comparison between Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit and Windows Defender Exploit Guard for more information on how Exploit protection supersedes EMET and what the benefits are when considering moving to exploit protection on Windows 10.
If you are currently using EMET you should be aware that EMET reached end of life on July 31, 2018. You should consider replacing EMET with exploit protection in Windows 10. You can convert an existing EMET configuration file into exploit protection to make the migration easier and keep your existing settings.
Some security mitigation technologies may have compatibility issues with some applications. You should test exploit protection in all target use scenarios by using audit mode before deploying the configuration across a production environment or the rest of your network.
Review exploit protection events in Windows Event Viewer
You can review the Windows event log to see events that are created when exploit protection blocks (or audits) an app:
Download the Exploit Guard Evaluation Package and extract the file ep-events.xml to an easily accessible location on the machine.
Type Event viewer in the Start menu to open the Windows Event Viewer.
On the left panel, under Actions, click Import custom view...
Navigate to where you extracted ep-events.xml and select it. Alternatively, copy the XML directly.
This will create a custom view that filters to only show the following events related to Exploit protection:
|Security-Mitigations||3||Do not allow child processes audit|
|Security-Mitigations||4||Do not allow child processes block|
|Security-Mitigations||5||Block low integrity images audit|
|Security-Mitigations||6||Block low integrity images block|
|Security-Mitigations||7||Block remote images audit|
|Security-Mitigations||8||Block remote images block|
|Security-Mitigations||9||Disable win32k system calls audit|
|Security-Mitigations||10||Disable win32k system calls block|
|Security-Mitigations||11||Code integrity guard audit|
|Security-Mitigations||12||Code integrity guard block|
|Security-Mitigations||19||ROP StackPivot audit|
|Security-Mitigations||20||ROP StackPivot enforce|
|Security-Mitigations||21||ROP CallerCheck audit|
|Security-Mitigations||22||ROP CallerCheck enforce|
|Security-Mitigations||23||ROP SimExec audit|
|Security-Mitigations||24||ROP SimExec enforce|
Comparison between Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit and Windows Defender Exploit Guard
If you are currently using EMET, you should be aware that EMET reached end of life on July 31, 2018. You should consider replacing EMET with exploit protection in Windows Defender ATP.
You can convert an existing EMET configuration file into exploit protection to make the migration easier and keep your existing settings.
This topic describes the differences between the Enhance Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) and exploit protection in Windows Defender ATP.
Exploit protection in Windows Defender ATP is our successor to EMET and provides stronger protection, more customization, an easier user interface, and better configuration and management options.
EMET is a standalone product for earlier versions of Windows and provides some mitigation against older, known exploit techniques.
After July 31, 2018, it will not be supported.
For more information about the individual features and mitigations available in Windows Defender ATP, as well as how to enable, configure, and deploy them to better protect your network, see the following topics:
The table in this section illustrates the differences between EMET and Windows Defender Exploit Guard.
|Windows Defender Exploit Guard||EMET|
All versions of Windows 10 starting with version 1709
Windows 8.1; Windows 8; Windows 7
Cannot be installed on Windows 10, version 1709 and later
|Installation requirements||Windows Security in Windows 10
(no additional installation required)
Windows Defender Exploit Guard is built into Windows - it doesn't require a separate tool or package for management, configuration, or deployment.
|Available only as an additional download and must be installed onto a management device|
|User interface||Modern interface integrated with the Windows Security app||Older, complex interface that requires considerable ramp-up training|
Dedicated submission-based support channel
Part of the Windows 10 support lifecycle
Ends after July 31, 2018
Ongoing updates and development of new features, released twice yearly as part of the Windows 10 semi-annual update channel
No planned updates or development
All EMET mitigations plus new, specific mitigations (see table)
Can convert and import existing EMET configurations
Limited set of mitigations
|Attack surface reduction||
Helps block known infection vectors
Can configure individual rules
Limited ruleset configuration only for modules (no processes)
Helps block malicious network connections
|Controlled folder access||
Helps protect important folders
Configurable for apps and folders
|Configuration with GUI (user interface)||
Use Windows Security app to customize and manage configurations
Requires installation and use of EMET tool
|Configuration with Group Policy||
Use Group Policy to deploy and manage configurations
|Configuration with shell tools||
Use PowerShell to customize and manage configurations
Requires use of EMET tool (EMET_CONF)
|System Center Configuration Manager||
Use Configuration Manager to customize, deploy, and manage configurations
Use Intune to customize, deploy, and manage configurations
With Windows event logs and full audit mode reporting
Full integration with Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection
Limited Windows event log monitoring
Full audit mode with Windows event reporting
Limited to EAF, EAF+, and anti-ROP mitigations
(2) Additional requirements may apply (such as use of Windows Defender Antivirus). See Windows Defender Exploit Guard requirements for more details. Customizable mitigation options that are configured with exploit protection do not require Windows Defender Antivirus.
The mitigations available in EMET are included in Windows Defender Exploit Guard, under the exploit protection feature.
The table in this section indicates the availability and support of native mitigations between EMET and exploit protection.
|Mitigation||Available in Windows Defender Exploit Guard||Available in EMET|
|Arbitrary code guard (ACG)||
As "Memory Protection Check"
|Block remote images||
As "Load Library Check"
|Block untrusted fonts|
|Data Execution Prevention (DEP)|
|Export address filtering (EAF)|
|Force randomization for images (Mandatory ASLR)|
|NullPage Security Mitigation||
Included natively in Windows 10
See Mitigate threats by using Windows 10 security features for more information
|Randomize memory allocations (Bottom-Up ASLR)|
|Simulate execution (SimExec)|
|Validate API invocation (CallerCheck)|
|Validate exception chains (SEHOP)|
|Validate stack integrity (StackPivot)|
|Certificate trust (configurable certificate pinning)||Windows 10 provides enterprise certificate pinning|
|Heap spray allocation||Ineffective against newer browser-based exploits; newer mitigations provide better protection
See Mitigate threats by using Windows 10 security features for more information
|Block low integrity images|
|Code integrity guard|
|Disable extension points|
|Disable Win32k system calls|
|Do not allow child processes|
|Import address filtering (IAF)|
|Validate handle usage|
|Validate heap integrity|
|Validate image dependency integrity|
The Advanced ROP mitigations that are available in EMET are superseded by ACG in Windows 10, which other EMET advanced settings are enabled by default in Windows Defender Exploit Guard as part of enabling the anti-ROP mitigations for a process.
See the Mitigation threats by using Windows 10 security features for more information on how Windows 10 employs existing EMET technology.