Over the past couple of years, ransomware has been growing rapidly and is infecting many systems. What makes ransomware very dangerous is that it can encrypt all your files and held them hostage until you pay the demanded ransom, hence the name ransomware.
To deal with this, Microsoft introduced a new feature as part of Ransomware Protection called Controlled Folder Access in the Fall Creators Update (v1709). By enabling and configuring the ransomware protection, you can protect your important folders like Photos, Documents, etc., from ransomware.
So, if you have sensitive information like personal photos, documents, etc., that you'd like to protect then you should enable Ransomware Protection in Windows 10. Here's how to do it.
- What is Controlled Folder Access
- Turn on ransomware protection
- Add folders to protect from ransomware
- Allow applications to access protected folders
What is Controlled Folder Access
Controlled Folder Access is a part of Windows Defender. It is designed to protect system folders and any folders you add from ransomware. When enabled, Controlled Folder Access blocks any and all applications that try to access the protected folder until Windows Defender scans the said application and deems it safe from any malicious threat.
If Windows Defender is actively blocking your favorite program and you know it is not malicious then you can manually add it to the allowed apps list. Once added, the application can access all the protected folders.
Since no program can access the protected folder without going through Windows Defender or you manually adding it to the allowed apps list, you will be safe from ransomware and any other malicious threats like viruses, malware, etc.
Turn On Ransomware Protection
The best thing about Controlled Folder Access is that it is very easy to turn on and add folder and apps to it.
1. First off, search for "Windows Defender Security Center" in the start menu and open it.
2. Now, select "Virus and Threat Protection" on the left panel and click on the link "Ransomware Protection" on the right panel.
3. Toggle the button under Controlled Folder Access to turn on Ransomware Protection.
Protect Folders Against Ransomware
4. As soon as you turn ON the protection, you will see additional options. To protect a folder from ransomware, you have to manually add it. To do that, click on the link "Protected Folders."
5. By default, Windows will protect user folders like Pictures, Documents, Videos, etc., of all users. To add a folder, click on the "Add a protected folder" button.
6. Navigate to where your folder is located, select it and click on the button "Select Folder."
7. That's it. You've successfully added a folder to the Ransomware Protection.
From this point forward, no application can access that folder or the files in it unless Windows Defender deems it safe or you manually allow. Every time an app is blocked from access the protected folder, Windows will display a notification letting you know the same.
Following the same procedure, you can add as many folders are your like. If you want to, you can add entire partitions or drives to the Controlled Folder Access. All you have to do is select the drive rather than a folder.
Allow Applications to Access Protected Folders
If one of your applications cannot access files inside the protected folder, you can manually give it access.
8. Go back to the Ransomware Protection screen (step 3) and click on the link "Allow an app through Controlled Folder Access."
9. Here, click on the "Add an allowed app" button.
10. In the browse window, navigate to the program's installation folder, select the .exe file and click on the "Open" button. Apart from .exe file, you can select other file formats like .scr, .dll, etc.
11. Just for demonstration purposes, I've added 7-Zip but you can add any application you want. This is how it looks like once are done adding an app to the allowed list.
Once the app has been added, it can access the protected folder and its contents without any restrictions.
You can add as many apps you would to the allow access list. Just be careful of the app you add to the list. Unless it is absolutely necessary, don't give apps access to the protected folders. Also, one thing to keep in mind is that the allow app can access all the protected folders in Controlled Folder Access.
That is all there is to do. It is that simple to enable and configure ransomware protection in Windows 10.
Do comment below sharing your thoughts and experiences about using the Ransomware Protection feature to protect your important and sensitive information and data from the nasty ransomware.
Image credit: Christiaan Colen - Cryptolocker Ransomware