The threat of phishing sites is only increasing day by day. While your antivirus package may be good enough to block access to dangerous or untrusted sites, you would want your browser to do this job as well.
With the latest machine learning technologies, it should be feasible to build this capability in the browsers. That is what Microsoft has precisely done. And more importantly, Microsoft has made this program available for the users of third-party browsers on its Windows 10 operating system.
The tool, called the Windows Defender Application Guard Extension, is available for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox browsers.
How to Install the Windows Defender Applications Guard Extension
The Windows Defender Application Guard Extension aims to protect computer users—whether they’re running the Windows 10 OS on standalone systems or its Enterprise version. The requirement is that the Windows 10 version 1803 or higher (or higher) must be installed and running for the Windows Defender Application Guard Extension to function.
Here are the steps you need to take to install the app:
- First you need to make certain the Windows Defender Applications Guard Extension is enabled on your system. For this you may have to download and install the Windows Defender Companion app from the Microsoft Store.
- Check this support page to confirm that other basic hardware and software requirements are met by your system.
- If these steps are concluded, you will get a confirmation on the screen with the Windows Defender Application Guard Extension welcoming you and giving a numbered confirmation that your device is indeed compatible; the companion app has been installed and that the Application Guard is turned on.
- You are now set to use the Windows Defender Applications Guard Extension.
Installation of the Extension on Chrome and Firefox
Installing Windows Defender Applications Guard Extension in either the Google Chrome browser or the Mozilla Firefox browser is easy:
- On Chrome, click on the three dots on the right-hand top corner and from the drop-down menu choose More Options.
2. From there, select Extensions.
3. Search for Windows Defender Application Guard Extension on the Chrome Webstore. Or, simply click here for the app listing.
4. Then download the extension.
5. Chrome browser will now have the Windows Defender Applications Guard Extension and the icon will show.
- In Mozilla Firefox, the process is almost identical to the steps above. Note: There are three lines instead of dots on the top right of the interface.
2. From the drop-down menu, you can choose Options or Add-ons and find Extensions there.
3. In the top right search bar, you’ll see an option to find more extensions. Search for the Windows Defender Application Guard Extension, or simply click here.
How to Use the Windows Defender Application Guard Extension
Now that you have installed the browser extension, you should be able to get the maximum benefit out of it. Here, experts note that users of the Enterprise edition stand to gain the most from this browser extension.
Those on the other two versions—the Windows Professional and the standalone users of the Enterprise version of Windows 10—may not benefit as much, since they need to manually set the mode on their browsers.
A List of Trusted Sites
The moment you try to access a site that is labeled as an “untrusted” site, the Windows Defender Applications Guard Extension comes into play and takes the page to the Microsoft Edge Application Guard or an isolated session of the Microsoft Edge browser. This should be treated as assistance offered by Microsoft to the users of third-party browsers as those on Microsoft Edge feel secure in the knowledge that no harm can be caused by these sites.
The most interesting part in this arrangement is that if the user tries to access a trusted site on one of these redirected sessions on Microsoft Edge, the browser will automatically switch back to the default browser that the user was already on.
Preventing Data Collection
There is a default feature within the Windows Defender Application Guard Extension that allows Microsoft to collect diagnostics data. If you don’t want your data to be collected, you have the option to disable this provision.
On the window that has this feature within Windows Defender Application Guard Extension, there will be a toggle that reads, Allow Microsoft to collect diagnostic data. By switching this toggle to the “Off” position, your data will remain uncollected.
If, for any reason, you don’t want to use the Windows Defender Application Guard Extension, you can remove it from your browser. The method is the same you would use to get rid of any browser extension from your Firefox or Chrome browser. To find out how to remove extensions, see Google’s support page and Firefox’s support page.
Installing the Windows Defender Application Guard Extension is yet another way you can protect your computer and yourself from the unscrupulous elements that want to steal your data. Phishing sites and pages with malicious content are practically thrown at you without your knowledge or consent.
There are anti-malware programs which can help mitigate this, but the Windows Defender Application Guard Extension provides an added boost to your security.