Windows 10 was released on July 29th 2015, and has been a steady topic of the tech world ever since. 14 million users downloaded it just 24 hours after the release. This is partly due to the fact that Microsoft offered it as a free download for existing Windows users, and a different service model that releases service packs every few months. This is to the dismay of users that do not want to update their systems so frequently.
More recently, the backlash has been over privacy concerns brought on by this new operating system. The concern lies in the fact that Windows 10 automatically assigns each user an advertising ID that is linked to the email address that is on file. Using this ID, the company tailors advertisements that will be seen when browsing the internet and using certain applications.
Secondly, user’s personal data, like Wi-Fi passwords is being synced with the servers on Microsoft. This can be encrypted and shared with user’s contacts, using the feature called Wi-Fi sense. Microsoft has its own “personal assistant” Cortana, and it must collect data to provide the detailed service that it does. One of the biggest worries for Microsoft customers is their policy on disclosing and sharing personal information.
These are some steps to take to maintain control of the features in question and are the easiest ways to increase security settings in Windows 10.
1. Installation Options
If Windows 10 has not yet been installed, be sure to do a custom install. This means that users can pick and choose which features are enabled at the time of installation. If Windows 10 was installed with the express setting, it is still possible to disable some of the privacy settings defaults.
2. General Security
Click the Start button, then Settings, then Privacy. Click on the General tab that will be on the left sidebar. Under this tab, there will be sliders that can toggle on and off. The top button is most important to disable; this is the one that allows use of the advertising ID. Switching the rest of the toggle switches will disable the other features as well.
3. Network and Internet
Still under the General settings, click on Manage Wi-Fi settings (this will be in the middle of the screen). To keep everything private, all sliders should be moved to the “off” position, and the boxes should be unchecked. Otherwise, it is possible to select the features individually.
4. Location Security
After this, go to the Location tab, and turn off location data for specific applications or all applications. This is not totally new to Windows 10, but it is something that those who are concerned with their security like to do.
5. Speech, Inking, and Typing
This section disables Cortana from obtaining information about you. Just click the “Stop getting to know me” button in the middle of the screen. This also disables Cortana and dictation.
6. Other Devices
You may turn off the “Sync with devices” feature, which is used for advertising purposes.
How else can users protect themselves? Simply put, disconnect more and be aware of what you are signing up for.
- Microsoft has Device Guard, a program that vets applications and determines if they are safe or not by checking them against a list of vendors, the Windows app store, and an enterprise.
- Microsoft’s Hello is a program that uses biometrics for encryption rather than passwords. This will only work with a machine that has a fingerprint reader and scanning software.
- Passport is a program that allows access basically with no password. You will verify the possession of the device with a PIN or Windows Hello, and then all password protected websites will be accessible.
For every program that is invented to protect users, there is another to do just the opposite.
Featured photo credit: Sebastian Bednarek via unsplash.com