Several days ago, Windows 10’s latest update was introduced and made available for the public. With the Creators Fall Update, a number of new features and improvements have been added to the newest Operating System created by Microsoft. We already covered one such feature called TruePlay that allows game developers to add an anti-cheat protection to their Win 10 products – you can read more about TruePlay here. Another interesting utility that the developers behind Windows have added, which might appeal to a larger group of users, is the so-called Controlled Folder Access which is basically a utility that allows the user to restrict the access to chosen folders in order to protect their contents from malicious software such as Ransomware.
Everything is blocked by default
Once enabled, the Controlled Folder Access would block all apps that haven’t been manually whitelisted by the user from accessing any protected folders. In theory, this should stop any attempts from Ransomware viruses that try to encrypt the user’s data as long as the folder where the files reside has been added to the list of folders protected by the new feature.
As you probably already know, Ransomware is a huge issue for both regular users and the admins of big computer networks as those viruses can easily lock-up all personal files on the infected machine and later blackmail the computer’s user into making a ransom payment to the hacker who is behind the attack. Hopefully, the utility added by Microsoft will help with the protection of any important data documents that users value. In fact, the idea of secured, access-restricted folders isn’t new as a number of antivirus programs offer such a feature. However, many of them require the user to buy the premium version of the antivirus in order to be able to use the said utility. However, now that Controlled Folder Access has been added to Windows 10, even customers that do not have this kind of feature available on their antivirus, would be able to use it directly from their OS as a built-in option.
How to enable it
Here is a brief explanation of how you can access, enable and customize the Controlled Folder Access feature on your Windows 10:
- The first thing you’d need to do is open your Start Menu and type Windows Defender Security Center. Open the first result that shows up.
- Once the new window opens, click on the Virus and threat protection option from the left panel and then select Virus and threat protection settings from the right.
- On the newly-opened page, scroll down until you reach the Controlled folder access settings. In order to enable the feature, simply click on the Off button so that it changes to On.
- Next, you will need to select which folders you wish to protect. To do that, click on the Protected folders option and add any folders that you want to have protected. We advise you to add all folders that contain files which are important or valuable to you.
- If you want to whitelist any apps (i.e. allow them to have access to the protected folder), select Allow an app through Controlled folder access from the Controlled folder access options and add any apps that will be deemed trusted and would be allowed to access, create, delete and modify files that are inside the protected folders.
- *Extra Step* – There is also another way to quickly enable/disable Controlled folder access feature – simply copy-paste the following line Set-MpPreference -EnableControlledFolderAccess Enabled in the PowerShell command line and hit Enter. This will enable the feature, to disable it, simply change the argument from Enabled to Disabled. If you do not know how to access the PowerShell command line, simply type powershell in your Start Menu search bar and open the first result that gets displayed.
You still need to be careful!
Even though this feature is an improvement towards having better protection for your files against Ransomware or other malicious apps, you must still remember that the best defense for your computer and your data is the one that you provide them with through your actions and your common sense. Always remember to stay safe online and to avoid any potential sources of malware such as illegal and shady websites or spam messages and sketchy web ads and offers. After all, it is much better to simply avoid dangerous programs than to have the security features of your machine put to the test as you can hardly ever know for sure which is going to come on top – the malware or the security of your system.