Cyber-attacks have changed over the past few years. Rogue hackers can now take over your PC and lock down files unless you are ready to pay them money. These types of attacks are called Ransomware, and they use kernel-level exploits that attempt to run malware with the highest privileges, e.g., WannaCry and Petya ransomware. In order to mitigate these types of attacks, Microsoft has rolled out a feature that allows you to enable Core Isolation and Memory Integrity to prevent such attacks.
Windows Defender Security Center offers this feature. Called Device Security, it offers status reporting and management of security features built into your devices – including toggling features on to provide enhanced protection. However, It doesn’t work on a software level; the hardware needs to support it as well. Your firmware should support Virtualization, which enables the Windows 11/10 PC to run applications in a container, so they don’t get access to other parts of the system.
Enable Core Isolation & Memory Integrity in Windows 11
It is probably the easiest way to enable or disable Virtualization-based Security in Windows 11. In other words, you need to enable Core isolation to get it done. For that, do the following:
- Search for windows security in the Taskbar search box.
- Click on the individual search result.
- Switch to the Device security tab.
- Click on the Core isolation details option.
- Toggle the Memory integrity button to turn it on.
- Restart your computer.
Enable Core Isolation & Memory Integrity in Windows 11/10
- Sign in as an administrator and open Windows Defender Security Center
- Look for Device Security option.
- Here you should check if Core Isolation under Virtualization is enabled on your PC.
- Core isolation provides virtualization-based security features to protect core parts of your device.
- Click on Core isolation details, and you will be offered to enable Memory Integrity.
Memory integrity (hypervisor-protected code integrity) is a security feature of Core isolation that prevents attacks from inserting malicious code into high-security processes. Toggle to turn it On.
Once enabled, it will ask you to restart the PC to completely enable Memory Integrity.
If later on, you face application compatibility issues, you may need to turn this off.
Enable or Disable Core Isolation and Memory Integrity using Registry
You can also use the Registry, to enable or disable Core isolation Memory integrity using Registry Editor, follow these steps:
- Press Win+R to open the Run dialog.
- Type regedit and hit the Enter button.
- Click on the Yes option.
- Navigate to Scenarios in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE.
- Right-click on Scenarios > New > Key.
- Name it as HypervisorEnforcedCodeIntegrity.
- Right-click on it > New > DWORD (32-bit) Value.
- Name it as Enabled.
- Double-click on it to set the Value data as 1 to enable and 0 to disable.
- Click the OK button.
- Restart your computer.
To learn more about these steps, keep reading.
Precaution: Before heading to the REGEDIT steps, don’t forget to create a System Restore point.
To get started, press Win+R to open the Run dialog, type regedit, and hit the Enter button. If the UAC prompt appears on your screen, click on the Yes option to open the Registry Editor.
Next, navigate to the following path:
Right-click on the Scenarios key > New > Key, and name it as HypervisorEnforcedCodeIntegrity.
Then, you have to create a REG_DWORD value. For that, right-click on HypervisorEnforcedCodeIntegrity > New > DWORD (32-bit) Value, and name it as Enabled.
By default, it comes with a Value data of 0, meaning it is disabled. However, if you want to enable this functionality, double-click on it to set the Value data as 1.
Click the OK button and restart your computer.
That said, there are two more options that might be available depending on the hardware of your PC.
- Security Processor only shows up if you have TPM available with your PC hardware. They are discrete chips soldered to a computer’s motherboard by the OEM. To get the most out of TPM, OEM must carefully integrate system hardware and firmware with the TPM to send it commands and react to its responses. The newer TPMs can also provide security and privacy benefits to the system hardware itself. So make sure to check for all of these if you are buying a new PC.
- Secure Boot prevents malicious code to load up before your OS. They are hard to crack but with secure boot it’s taken care of.
Windows 11/10 also offers Hypervisor Protected Code Integrity (HVCI) when you start with clean installs. Those who are on old hardware, will have the ability to opt-in post the upgrade using the UI in Windows Defender Security Center (WDSC). This enhancement will ensure that the kernel process that verifies code integrity runs in a secure runtime environment.