Increasing Windows XP Security with Microsoft EMET

By: RMT2
November 16, 2013

In this How-To, we will increase the security of your Windows XP computers (and any Vista, 7, or 8 computers as well) with a special tool Microsoft created, called the Microsoft EMET Tool.

What is the EMET Tool?
The EMET tool (EMET stands for Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit) is a free tool made by Microsoft, originally intended for use by enterprise companies (it is free for personal use too) to protect their computers from zero-day exploits. Zero-day exploits are security vulnerabilities found in popular software (such as Windows, Microsoft Office, Adobe Flash Player, etc.) that have not been patched by the company who made the software. When patches are released that fix these vulnerabilities and your computer is updated, you are no longer at risk of being exploited through them. 

The problem is, sometimes companies take weeks to release patches to fix these vulnerabilities. Until your computer is updated, it is at risk of being exploited. This is where the EMET tool comes in. The EMET tool works by protecting common software (you can also select individual apps you want to protect) from many exploits hackers use.

For more technical information on the tool, download the User Guide for the tool from this page:

Installing EMET
The installation process is fairly simple for the tool. Follow these steps:
  1. Check if you have version 4 of the .NET Framework installed.
    • Open Control Panel, then open Add or Remove Programs (Windows XP) or Programs and Features (Windows Vista or newer).
    • If version 4 of the .NET Framework is installed, proceed to Step 3. If it is not, proceed to step 2.
  2. Install the .NET Framework.
  3. Install the EMET tool.
  4. Once the EMET Configuration Wizard opens, select Use Recommended Settings and then click Finish.
  5. You will now see a gray box with a black lock symbol icon in your notification tray. Right-click on it and click on Open EMET.

Configuring EMET
You now already have protection for some of the most popular software from zero day exploits. Be sure to restart your computer after you are done configuring, as applications need to restart to be protected after protection is enabled.

If you are a basic user just wanting extra protection, you are finished. Restart your computer, and you now have an extra layer of protection. Enjoy!

If you are an advanced user and want to configure more apps to be protected, read on!

Important Warning: Be sure to test applications that you enable protection for, as some apps will crash if you enable protection on them. Don't enable protection for every program on your computer! Test each one.

Now that you have the EMET window open, there are several things you can configure. Under System Status, you can see different protections and how they are configured for use by applications.

EMET Home Screen

You can change these protections manually, or you can choose a Quick Profile from near the top of the window.

To configure protections for individual programs, look in the list of Running Processes. Note that the program has to be running for it to appear in the list (you will have to click Refresh for newly launched processes to appear). Once you find the process you want to configure protections for, right-click it and click on Configure Process. You will now see a window that will let you configure EMET protections (a checked box means that the type of protection is enabled). In this window, any other processes that have protections enabled will also be listed, and you can configure them as well.

When you're done configuring protections for a process, click OK and then restart the application (or your computer) for the new protections to be enabled. Again, be sure to test any apps you enable protections for to make sure they work properly.

Your computer now has an extra layer of security added on to it. Enjoy!

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