Security researchers releases free tool to make Windows more secure

A well-known security researcher has released a free tool that should make it easy for users to make Windows more secure. The tool is called Hardentools and disables features in Windows, and other applications, that can be exploited by attackers.

Many of the features that are disabled by Hardentools are normally only for enterprise usage and useless for regular users. Nevertheless, they are a possible security risk and can be abused by cybercriminals to infect computers with malware. By disabling features, such as Windows Script Host, Autorun, Autoplay and the execution of Powershell scripts through Windows Explorer, most common users don’t lose any functionality while their Windows environment is safer.

Hardentools also disables the execution of macros, OLE objects and Active-X controls in Microsoft Office documents. In Adobe Reader it disables both Javascript and embedded objects in PDF documents.

The developer warns that his software is experimental and should be used at your own risk. An important drawback of the tool is that it can impact usability of the applications of which it disables features, however according to the developer, they are ‘considerable downsides ‘ for having a slightly more secure Windows environment.

In the future the it should become possible for users to disable each feature individually, currently all features in Hardentools are either on or off.

The developer of the software is Claudio Guarnieri who works as Technologist and Researcher at Amnesty International and is also a Senior Research Fellow with Citizen Lab, University of Toronto. Besides that he is also developer of Cuckoo Sandbox and online malware analysis tool Malwr.