Hackernoon logoTry These Steps for Increasing Privacy and Security on Windows 10 by@elina-watson

Try These Steps for Increasing Privacy and Security on Windows 10

Elina Watson Hacker Noon profile picture

@elina-watsonElina Watson

Note: Some versions of Windows 10 may not show all the following settings.

Sure, Windows 10 comes with some built-in security features like Windows Defender. But this should not be seen as a cure-all for all the dangers of today's internet. Instead, consider these tips for upping your Windows security even more.

1. Use a password rather than a PIN for local accounts.

Whether you use a local account or a Microsoft one, make sure you use a strong, alphanumeric password.

2. You don’t have to link your PC to a Microsoft account.

Create a local account instead. This prevents sharing data about local accounts, though at the expense of being able to share data across devices.

How: Settings > Accounts > Sign in with a local account instead

3. Randomize your hardware address on WiFi.

Enabling random hardware addresses reduces a user's exposure to tracking across different WiFi networks. Note: not all devices support this function.

How: Settings > Network & Internet > Wi-Fi

4. Don’t automatically connect to open Wi-Fi networks.

Windows 10 can connect to suggested open WiFi hotspots automatically. Disabling this setting provides more control over network connections.

How: Settings > Network & Internet > Wi-Fi

5. Disable Cortana to keep voice data private.

By using Cortana, the voice-controlled assistant, both the commands and information on searches are sent to Microsoft. Disabling Cortana is more private, even though voice-control functionality is sacraficed.

How: Settings > Cortana

6. Watch for system updates changing privacy settings.

System updates are enabled by default, which could revert settings to defaults or add new ones, granting more access to parts of your system. Check settings after each major update, including looking for new items.

Most privacy settings on Windows 10 are accessible in the Privacy section of Settings. We recommend looking through each section in detail, though here are the main settings to look out for:

7. Don’t share your advertising ID with apps on your system.

Disabling this also resets your advertising ID.

How: Settings > Privacy > General

8. Control which apps and services have access to your location.

It's recommended that this function be disabled entirely if not needed.

How: Settings > Privacy > Location

9. Control which apps can access sensitive data.

You can block access to features such as camera, microphone, contacts, calendar and call history.

How: Settings > Privacy > Camera/Microphone/Contacts/Calendar/Call history

10. Stop your speaking and typing being sent to the cloud.

This needs to be enabled in order to speak to Cortana, but reference tip 5 for advice on that function.

How: Settings > Privacy > Speech, Inking, & Typing

11. Keep your account info private.

Decide which apps, if any, should have access to your account details such as your name and picture. If access isn't neccessary, disable it.

How: Settings > Privacy > Account info

12. Restrict the apps that can send or receive messages.

Electronic communications often contain sensitive data, so consider which apps really need access to your email, text or MMS messages.

How: Settings > Privacy > Email/Messaging

13. Decide whether apps can access your Bluetooth.

Note that configuring this access doesn’t disable Bluetooth, it just prevents apps from being able to control it.

How: Settings > Privacy > Radios

14. Control apps’ ability to sync with non-pairing devices.

Examples of such devices include beacons that transmit advertising information to devices in close proximity, such as in retail outlets. Take control.

How: Settings > Privacy > Other devices

15. Limit the feedback and usage data that is sent to Microsoft.

Note that in “Feedback & diagnostics” only “Basic” is available — there’s no “Disable.” We recommend also turning off the tailored tips based on your data.

How: Settings > Privacy > Feedback & diagnostics

By adhering to these tips, you become a more secure user of Microsoft devices. Not all of them may be appropriate for a user's habits, but they should all be considered as methods for increasing cybersecurity on these devices.


Join Hacker Noon

Create your free account to unlock your custom reading experience.