Ways to optimize privacy & security in Windows 10
Always keep firmware and OS up to date
Firmware and OS updates. Again. I know… I’m tired of saying it too, but it really is that important. Microsoft releases updates to their integrated anti-virus software on an almost weekly basis, and publishes larger updates on a less frequent, monthly schedule. Additionally, Microsoft has maintained a bi-annual release schedule for Windows version updates. All of these updates matter and there really isn’t any good reason not to update when new patches or versions are released.
For most users, there is nothing to lose apart from a little time, which is required during the updates, after which your device will be safer and more resilient to potential threats. However, there are some things to take into consideration when planning your updates as a business owner or IT professional.
Firstly, schedule your updates for weekends, when less critical work is being done or when fewer clients or customers will be affected by a short downtime.
Second, make sure that your data is redundantly backed up in a secure place before updating to avoid data loss in the event of a power failure or other disaster.
Third, ensure that your firmware is updated before your OS updates and patches so that your hardware never interferes with or acts a bottleneck for your OS or installed applications!
Following these simply steps while keeping your devices current is a critical part of your infrastructure and will go a long way towards keep you safe from predatory attacks, accidents, or even disasters.
Keep your disk clean and manage your storage
When you first set up your device, Windows will prompt you to use a Microsoft Account – don’t do it.
While there are a few conveniences that come along with using an online account, the price you pay as a user is far too high! Using a connected account allows Microsoft access to all of your files at all times, and changes many default settings in Windows that will ultimately result in major reductions to performance and privacy.
The most basic difference between using an online or a local account is the way Windows settings are configured from that point on.
If you use an online account, the default location for saved documents and other files becomes OneDrive, which, apart from requiring more bandwidth, CPU time, and IOPS on your drive, it also gives legal ownership of said files to Microsoft, and grants them access to your sensitive data at any time, without your knowledge or consent.
Other changes include data collection from your devices such as microphone and camera, logs of your application usage history, website traffic, and many more. All of this information become property of Microsoft and can be sold, in aggregate, to third parties, also without your knowledge or consent.
Additionally, using an online account stores your login credentials – be it a password, fingerprint ID, or facial recognition data – on Microsoft servers, so that they can accessed from any other devices you connect to the same account. This increases the cost of failure, should you forget a password, or have your security breached, it would no longer be local to one device, but could affect any number of devices that have accessed the internet with that account.