How to Protect Devices against Malicious Code using Windows Security?

Protect Device Against Malicious Code

Windows security is the main application in Microsoft’s operating systems, which helps the user safeguard the machine against malware, PUAs, and other potential threats. It comes with a lot of features for every need. You can configure it for reputation-based security, protected browsing, quick and advanced scanning, and more.

In addition, there’s a lot you can protect with built-in Windows security, and to know how to do it, read further.

Ways To Use Windows Security Features To Safeguard Your Device

Windows security offers numerous features, which you can leverage per the methods listed below.

1: Execute a Quick Scan

With a quick scan, you can find the malicious files and remove them immediately.

Step 1: Go to Start >> Settings >> Update & Security.

Step 2: Navigate to Windows Security and then to “Virus & Threat Protection”.

Step 3: You will find the “Quick Scan” option under the “Current Threats” Click on it, and the system security will start its function.

After the scan, it will show you the results, and you can take relevant action.

2: Perform an Advanced Scan

If you are still concerned after a quick scan that your system might be having a malicious component, perform the advanced scan. It takes a deep insight into the system to help discover illegitimate processes and files.

Step 1: Follow the below path to reach the advanced scan option.

Start >> Settings >> Update & Security >> Windows Security >> Virus & Threat Protection.

Step 2: Go to the “Scan Option” available under the “Current Threats” heading.

Step 3: Select the advanced scan that you want to run. Primarily, you will get the option to choose from “Full scan,” “Custom scan,” and “Microsoft Defender Offline Scan.”

The full scan will analyze all the programs and files available on the device. The custom scan will check the specific group of folders, files, and programs. The Defender offline scan will restart your system to initiate a deep scan before booting up the Windows for you.

Step 4: Choose the advanced scan option and click the “Scan now” button.

3: Create a Schedule for Scan

If you want to scan the system at a specific interval or time, you can schedule your scans. To do so, follow the below procedure:

Step 1: Use the search functionality and input “schedule tasks” to view the option for opening “Task Scheduler”.

Step 2: Expand the “Task Scheduler Library” and then expand “Microsoft” >> “Windows” >> Choose the “Windows Defender” folder.

Step 3: Choose the “Windows Defender Scheduled Scan” available at the top in the centermost pane.

Step 4: On the right side, scroll down the “Actions” pane and choose “Properties”.

Step 5: A new window will display, where you should go to the “Triggers” tab.

Step 6: Click on “New” and create the schedule at your convenience.

Step 7: Click “OK“, review the schedule, and again click “OK“.

As a result, your scan will be scheduled.

4: Enable Anti-ransomware Protection

Windows security offers a controlled folder access mechanism that helps to prevent ransomware attacks. To enable this advanced feature, follow the below procedure:

Step 1: Access the “Windows Security” settings and choose “Virus & Threat Protection.”

Step 2: Click on “Manage settings,” available under the “Virus & threat protection settings.”


Click on the “Manage ransomware protection” option provided below the “Ransomware Protection“.

Step 3: Click on the “Manage Controller Folder Access” option and use the toggle button to enable it.

Step 4: Select each option under it one by one to view the folder details, such as blocked and protected folders and the application allowed to modify protected folders.

5: Verify Account Protection

To ensure that your account is protected by the Windows security feature, you can take the quick steps below. It will help you validate that the account is being safeguarded from malware.

Step 1: Go to “Windows Security” >> “Account Protection.”

Step 2: Ensure that there’s a green tick on the icons of the following:

  • Microsoft account
  • Windows Hello
  • Dynamic lock

If any of the functionality requires an action, the system will show you an alert or information about the same. Also, the recommended action details will be provided.

6: Check and Enable Firewall

There’s a high probability that malware will enter the system through the internet or other network to which your system is connected.

Firstly, check the firewall status for domain, public, and private networks with the following procedure.

Step 1: Access the Windows Security.

Step 2: Go to “Firewall & Network Protection”.

Step 3: Check the green checkmark on the icons of the domain, public, and private networks.

Further, if you want to modify or enable/disable any of the firewalls, go through the below procedure. Here, we’ll demonstrate the private network firewall configuration, and you can follow it for domain and public firewalls, too.

Step 1: On the “Firewall & network protection” window, click on the “Private network” option, highlighted in blue.

Step 2: Use the toggle button under “Microsoft Defender Firewall” to enable and disable the firewall.

Step 3: If you want to block the incoming message, click on the checkbox under “Incoming connections”.

Similarly, you can access domain and public firewall settings and configure them per requirements. But it’s always recommended to enable all firewalls for the utmost level of malware protection.

7: Configure Reputation-based Protection

Enabling reputation-based protection is always recommended by security professionals. It helps to secure the system from PUA (Potentially Unwanted Applications) and malicious executable files. To enable it, follow the below steps:

Step 1: Open the Windows Security application.

Step 2: Navigate to the “App & Browser Control” option in the left pane.

Step 3: Click on the “Reputation-based Protection Settings” highlighted in blue.

Step 4: Configure the settings per your requirements. You can enable and disable the following settings:

Available OptionFunctionality
Check apps and filesThe system will be protected from unrecognized executables and applications.
SmartScreen for Microsoft EdgeExecutable files will be checked during download and installation to prevent malware.
Potentially Unwanted app blockingApps with low reputations or PUAs are blocked to prevent the spread of malware and excessive resource usage.
SmartScreen for Microsoft Store appsThe entire Microsoft store content is analyzed to prevent the download and installation of malicious files.

8: Enable Core Isolation

By enabling this feature, you can leverage the isolated browsing functionality available on Windows 10, including versions Education, Pro, and Enterprise. The main aim of enabling it is to protect the system from zero-day and malware cyber-attacks.

To use this feature, follow the below process.

Step 1: Access  the “Windows Security” >> “App & Browser Control”.

Step 2: Under “Isolated browsing“, click on “Change application guard settings.”

Step 3: Turn on all the settings, including Save data, copy and paste, print files, camera and microphone, and advanced graphics.

As a result, whenever you will use Microsoft Edge, you will browse in isolated mode.

9: Update Exploit Protection Settings

The exploit protection feature is also for protection from malware. However, it provides an added advantage of securing the system, even if Microsoft does not provide a malware security update. It’s recommended to ensure that this feature is turned on but not to modify any of its configuration.

To ensure the enablement of exploit protection, undergo the following process.

Step 1: Follow the path: Windows Security >> App & browser control.

Step 2: Click on “Exploit Protection Settings”.

Step 3: Select the “System Settings” tab and ensure that all settings are “On”.

Step 4: Navigate to the “Program settings” tab and configure it according to your requirements.

Following the configuration, exploit protection will start running on your system.

10: Disable/Enable the Windows Defender

Sometimes, disabling and enabling the Windows Defender helps discover and quarantine malicious components, processes, and files quickly.

To execute this method, follow the below steps.

Step 1: Click on “Start” >> search “Windows Defender” and click on it.

Step 2: Once the Windows Defender application opens, click on “Settings”.

Step 3: Click on “Real-time Protection” toggle to disable it.

Step 4: Click on “Yes” to verify.

Step 5: Enable the “Real-time protection” after 15 to 20 minutes.

When the protection is enabled, it will immediately scan the entire system and alert you about malicious files.

Concluding Up

Windows Security provides numerous mechanisms to protect the system from malware, zero-day attacks, PUAs, and more. You can configure all the functionalities by navigating to Windows Security features, which are available under the settings application.

Once you access it, you can implement isolated browsing, reputation-based security, and Windows Defender settings and execute the scan of your choice per requirements. As a result, the security system will help you retain data integrity and a protected environment to perform all operations.

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Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta is a Cyber-Security Enthusiast who constantly updates herself with new advancements in the Web/Cyber Security niche. Along with theoretical knowledge, she also implements her practical expertise in day-to-day tasks and helps others to protect themselves from threats.