5 things you need to know to feel secure on Windows 10

Privacy, Security

New versions of windows used to be like an international holiday. PC users around the world celebrated by sharing what they liked — much of Windows 7 — and hated — all of Windows 8 and Vista — about the latest version of the world’s most popular operating system.

In this way, Windows 10 is the end of an era.

This is the “final version” of the OS. After you step up to this version, there will be continual updates but no new version to upgrade to. It’s the birth of “Windows as a service,” according to Verge.

So if you’re taking free upgrade to the new version, here are 5 things you need to know as you get used to the Windows that could be with you for the rest of your life.

1.Our Chief Research Office Mikko Hypponen noted Windows 10 still hides double extensions by default.
“Consider a file named doubleclick.pdf.bat. If ‘hide extensions’ is enabled, then this will be shown in File Explorer as ‘doubleclick.pdf’. You, the user, might go ahead and double-click on it, because it’s just a PDF, right?” F-Secure Security Advisor Tom Gaffney told Infosecurity Magazine.

“In truth, it’s a batch file, and whatever commands it contains will run when you double-click on it.”

Keep this in mind when you do — or DON’T — click on unknown files.

2. You could end up sharing your Wi-Fi connection with all your contacts.
There’s some debate about whether or not Windows 10’s Wi-Fi Sense shares your Wi-Fi connection with social media contacts by default, as Windows Phone has for a while now.

ZDNet‘s Ed Bott says no, noting that “you have to very consciously enable sharing for a network. It’s not something you’ll do by accident.”

Security expert Brian Krebs is more skeptical, given how we’re “conditioned to click ‘yes’ to these prompts.”

“In theory, someone who wanted access to your small biz network could befriend an employee or two, and drive into the office car park to be in range, and then gain access to the wireless network,” The Register‘s Simon Rockman wrote. “Some basic protections, specifically ones that safeguard against people sharing their passwords, should prevent this.”

Gaffney notes that Wi-Fi Sense is “open to accidental and deliberate misuse.”

So what to do?

Krebs recommends the following:

  1. Prior to upgrade to Windows 10, change your Wi-Fi network name/SSID to something that includes the terms “_nomap_optout”. [This is Windows opt-out for Wi-Fi Sense].
  2. After the upgrade is complete, change the privacy settings in Windows to disable Wi-Fi Sense sharing.

3. There are some privacy issues you should know about.
Basically “whatever happens, Microsoft knows what you’re doing,” The Next Web‘s Mic Wright noted.

Microsoft, according to its terms and conditions, can gather data “from you and your devices, including for example ‘app use data for apps that run on Windows’ and ‘data about the networks you connect to.’” And they can also disclose it to third parties as they feel like it.

Here’s a good look at the privacy and security settings you should check now.

Want a deep dive into the privacy issues? Visit Extreme Tech.

4. The new Action Center could be useful but it could get annoying.
This notification center makes Windows feel more like an iPhone — because isn’t the point of everything digital to eventually merge into the same thing?

BGR‘s Zach Epstein wrote “one location for all of your notifications is a welcome change.” But it can get overwhelming.

“In Windows 10, you can adjust notifications settings by clicking the notifications icon in the system tray,” he wrote. “The click All settings, followed by System and then Notifications & actions.”

5. Yes, F-Secure SAFE, Internet Security and Anti-Virus are all Windows 10 ready.

[Image by Brett Morrison | Flickr]

1 Comments

I’m with Ed Bott. To enable Wi-Fi Sense you either have to do it very consciously or be arbitrary and careless. If the latter, there’s no amount of hand-holding that Windows can do to keep you safe.

You are right about the double-extensions though. I’m sure they know about this and consciously decided to leave it this way, but beats me why.

I’m really happy with Windows 10 so far on my Thinkpad X-1 Carbon. The in-place upgrade from Win 8.1 was quick and uneventful. The new Start menu is very different from the old one. Better in some ways, lacking in others, but much more than good enough. I find I launch off the taskbar mostly so I don’t see the Start Menu much.

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