- July 13th, 2015
- 38 Comments
Online Safety, PC security
If your computer runs Windows 7 or 8, you likely noticed something different on the bottom right side of your computer screen recently. What you may have noticed is the icon for Windows 10, due out at the end of this month. And while Windows 8 was just a tad, shall we say, underwhelming, this newest Windows incarnation seems to hit all the targets that its predecessor missed, including addressing many security concerns. Let’s take a look at 5 security features that make Windows 10 a game changer when it comes to your safety.
1. Two-Factor Authentication – Safety in Numbers
In today’s ever-expanding world of hackers and cyber criminals, multi-factor authentication is not only a smart idea; it’s also becoming the bottom line in basic security practices. With this reality in mind, Windows 10 is rolling out two features (one new and one enhanced) to protect user privacy: Windows Hello and the updated Windows Passport. Windows Hello incorporates a two-factor approach to access information. Users will be able to utilize their device as one authentication element and a PIN number or biometric element such as a fingerprint or iris scan as the other. The updated Windows Passport will take this nifty feature one step further by allowing those same elements to be used for access across the entire Windows ecosystem, eliminating the need for all-too-easy-to-hack passwords. Using a multi-factor approach makes hacking a private system or network exponentially more difficult, and that’s great news for PC users.
2. Device Guard – Your Antivirus Right-Hand Man
Device Guard is Windows 10’s way of deciding whether an app or file is trustworthy or whether it contains some sort of malware. As each file or app is called upon to run, Windows 10 does some quick (and by that we mean ridiculously fast) calculations to determine if that program is one you want to be opening. If there is any reason to suspect that the program presents a danger, the user will be alerted. It’s then up to the user to decide whether or not to run the executable. In an interview earlier this year, Microsoft’s Chris Hallum stated that this feature is designed to work in tandem with antivirus programs. According to Hallum, “Traditional AV (antivirus) solutions and app control technologies will be able to depend on Device Guard to help block executable and script-based malware while AV will continue to cover areas that Device Guard doesn’t such as JIT based apps (e.g., Java) and macros within documents.” This makes Device Guard a great addition to your anti-virus protection.
3. Separating Work and Play – In the Name of Safety
Do you bring your own device (BYOD) to work on a regular basis? If so, then you are probably well acquainted with the risks involved in using the same device for work and leisure. To help back you up, Windows 10 has a cool “on-the-fly” encryption feature called proactive Data Loss Prevention to make sure your corporate data storage is iron-clad. Windows 10 will intuitively detect what is work-related and encrypt that information using an enhanced version of BitLocker, Microsoft’s disk encryption feature. Anything it deems as work-related is put into a more secure portal.
4. Introducing Edge – Microsoft’s New (and Safe!) Browser
Edge is the new browser from Microsoft that will be released with Windows 10 . The Edge, formerly code named Project Spartan, is designed with security at its core, perhaps to make up for the spectacular security failings of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Edge will allow users to use their Windows Passport to access websites instead of passwords, one step towards making those pesky eight-character codes obsolete. Moreover, Edge won’t support any ActiveX updates, which is a popular entry point for malware and viruses. It will run in sandbox mode, which pretty much means it will be an entity unto itself, making it harder for it to be corrupted by malware.
5. Automatic Antivirus Update – For Safety’s Safe
Keeping your antivirus up to date is critical for ensuring that it works properly. After all, if your antivirus doesn’t refer to a database of the most recently discovered viruses, bots and malware, how can it possibly protect you from them? The installation process of Windows 10 remedies this issue by ensuring that the most recent version of your antivirus is running. During the upgrade process, Windows 10 will uninstall your current antivirus and preserve the settings. After the upgrade is finished, Windows 10 will install the newest available version of your antivirus, along with your preferred settings. If your antivirus subscription has expired, Microsoft’s own Windows Defender will be installed. This means that if your antivirus wasn’t up-to-date prior to your Windows 10 upgrade, it will be afterwards, as long as your antivirus provider is Windows 10 compatible. (Rest easy. If you’re using any ZoneAlarm security product, the latest version will be fully compatible.)
Our Windows 10 Conclusion – Great at a Glance
If Windows 10 really delivers on all these expectations, there will be a lot to love about this new operating system. But as any savvy consumer knows, if something seems too good to be true, well, it very well might be. So stay tuned to see how all these new features, enhancements and updates work out. In the meantime, while you mull over whether or not to upgrade to Windows 10, don’t forget to keep sight of your information in your current Operating System. Be vigilant about using hard-to-crack passwords, use a top-notch antivirus program and make sure it updates regularly.
Will you be upgrading to Windows 10? Let us know why or why not!