ESET Examines the Security of the New and Improved Windows 8.1

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Aryeh Goretsky, Distinguished Researcher at ESET®, the global leader in proactive digital protection with a record 10 years of consecutive VB100 awards for its ESET NOD32® technology, reviewed the security of the latest version of Microsoft® operating system Windows 8.1 that comes up with some under-the-hood improvements.
Today, ESET releases a white paper, ‘Windows 8.1 Security – New and Improved’, that reviews some of the most anticipated—and controversial—security features of this new ".1" point release of Windows 8, including:

  • Updated biometric security framework:Support for fingerprint recognition has been greatly improved, and we can expect to see fingerprint readers appearing in more Windows devices,” says Goretsky.
  • InstantGo device manageability:In combination with new hardware from Microsoft partners, this new low-power mode of operation allows for always-on, always connected device scenarios, which translates into always managed for Information Technology and Security departments,” adds Goretsky.
  • Pervasive Device Encryption: If the hardware supports it, user’s drive(s) will be transparently encrypted by Windows 8.1. The paper takes a look at what this means for users.
  • Windows Defender: The paper examines what is new in the updated version of Microsoft's free anti-malware program.

The white paper also looks at the adoption rate for Windows 8 and 8.1, discusses new risks introduced by Windows 8.1, and looks at whether or not IT shops and users should upgrade.
The previous version from Microsoft, the Windows 8 release launched this time last year, was evaluated by ESET in June 2013 and some of the security elements are summarized in the Six Months with Windows 8 article on Based on telemetry provided by ESET Live Grid® technology as of mid-November 2013, in the past six months, the number of ESET users using the Windows 8 has doubled to nearly 6% (note that this covers both Windows 8 and 8.1). Windows 7 remains the top operating system, having increased to a 54% share. Windows XP continues to hold on to second place, despite a 7% drop in usage to 37%.
The new ‘Windows 8.1 Security – New and Improved’ white paper is available to be downloaded from White Papers section (in landscape formatting).