Our next "Interview" with a Windows feature!
Celebrities are a common site around the Microsoft campus, and sometimes we can get them to stop and chat. Today we're rubbing elbows with the famous virtual bodyguard, Windows SmartScreen Filter.
Mr. Filter looked across at me. "Who did you say you were?"
"Well, you look like your picture, but ... can I see some credentials?"
The entire conversation went on this way—clearly, Mr. Filter trusts no one (not by looks alone, anyway). Here's the gist of our chat:
JG: Hey, make yourself comfortable. Where did you just come from?
SSF: A meeting. We get together regularly to update our Enemies List.
JG: Your... what kind of list?
WE: We keep track of illicit web sites—the kind that try to steal people's identities and such. You might know ‘em as Phishing sites. We also have a list of other bad actors we call malware: viruses, Trojans, you know the type. And we learn all their disguises, too.
JG: And this is all so you can warn innocents like me away from the bad guys?
SSF: Something like that. Though you don't look all that innocent to me.
JG: Hmmm, I guess if you were a trusting soul, you'd be out of a job. Me, I'm a people person, so I figure if a website says "Just ignore that SmartScreen Filter" it's probably OK.
SSF: But it's NOT OK. Not at all. Our blacklists and whitelists are pretty reliable.
JG: How so?
SSF: Analysts at Microsoft check out the sites themselves. And we also get very reliable info from an inner circle of trusted data partners. Besides, if a site accidentally gets blacklisted, the site owners can notify us and we'll make it right—once we're sure.
JG: Do the bad guys ever sneak through?
SSF: A brand new phish or malware site might not have made it onto our list yet—but I'm wise to their ways. If they look suspicious, I'm going to warn you with my cleverly understated "Are you trying to visit this site?" When you see that, you'd better get your back up—and keep your personal data very, very close.
JG: Should I tell anyone?
SSF: Oh, yeah—you tell me, and I'll check it out. You can always find me in the Safety menu in your Internet Explorer window—and you can learn all about me.
JG: Always available? Does that mean you'll work on-demand?
SSF: You bet. Any time you're looking at a site and want some reassurance, just do a manual website check.
JG: I notice you have a tackle box there. You're pretty much the last person I expected to be an angler. I mean with the whole phishing thing.
WE: Do you joke around with airport security, too?
He was heading out the door seconds later, muttering something about me keeping my day job.
Join me again soon for another Feature Interview. Next time we'll double up and talk with a couple of real live wires—Sleep and Hibernate. I'll bring the coffee.