Microsoft to enforce “man in the middle” adware blocking in March 2016

Microsoft addressed unwanted practices taken by Adware in an effort to give customers more control. In April 2014, Microsoft announced it would begin blocking some adware to “give our customers choice and control regarding what happens with their computers.”  Since then, adware has evolved and evaded the new Microsoft policies and procedures, introducing a number of “man-in-the-middle (MiTM)” techniques.

Some of these MiTM techniques include injection by proxy, changing DNS settings, network layer manipulation and other methods of infiltration. These MiTM techniques block regular communications between the Internet and your Windows 10 PC, laptop, or tablet to introduce advertisements without the control of your browser.

Microsoft identified other ways that MiTM techniques can become potential security concerns. For one, MiTM techniques add security risk to customers by adding another outlet for infiltration by a computer virus. Web browsers like Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer 11, have controls in them notifying the user how their browser experience will change and confirm that this is what the user wants.

However, there are no warnings to the user on how these changes will impact their browsing experience. The browsers also don’t include warnings or fully explain what agreeing to these changes will do to the amount of user choice and control. Many of the MiTM methods change advanced settings and controls that a large percentage of users won’t be aware of; and they may be less likely to be able to change, control, or know how to fix them.

microsoft cybercrime division Adware
Microsoft’s intent is to keep the user in complete control of their browsing experience, while simultaneously providing them with security. Therefore, Microsoft is updating their Adware objective criteria to require that “programs that create advertisements in browsers must only use the browsers’ supported extensibility model for installation, execution, disabling, and removal.”

Microsoft’s number one priority is protecting the user’s choice and control while browsing the Internet. Microsoft is putting developers within the Windows ecosystem on notice to fix their programs so that they are compliant with the new policy. Those developers who refuse or fail to do so, will have their programs removed from the Windows Store.

Microsoft will start enforcing this policy beginning March 31, 2016.

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