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Windows 10 Configuration to Protect Privacy

Windows 10 has some new useful features, but if you think what this means rest of the Internet world out the waiting to pounce on your connected world, this could also come increased vulnerability. However, this idea is somewhat exaggerated. Let's look at what each element of the privacy settings is and what it really does, and which ones pose a risk.

Windows 10 you have the reputation of being some sort of " home phone " more than its predecessors. It is true, but most of this behavior is already in Windows 8, and can also be found on it on Android, iOS and Chrome. Of course, that does not mean that all functions are recommended. Simply, there is nothing new under the sun. Many security experts have published a list of the settings that you must disable in Windows 10 to protect your privacy, but most do not explain in detail what makes each of these settings risky, what this does is to make it difficult to separate facts from fiction. Here I offer to walk you through these settings, what I know about what they are and the actual repercussions of disabling them.

General Settings Privacy

Let's start with the obvious. Open the Windows 10 settings and go to Privacy → General. Most of the settings in this section are self-explanatory, but here's what they do:

They allow applications to use my id. Advertising: This helps Microsoft to offer you more personalized ads in applications that support them. You can disable it without affecting your user experience.

Activate the filter Smartscreen: This sends the addresses within the Windows Store if you buy from Microsoft to verify that you are not in a list of malicious sites and applications. Google does the same thing, but locally, that is, with the list on your own computer, and only sends the URLs if we activated the option to share usage statistics. It's a very useful function, so normally leave it on. Note that this only affects the way we visit sites in other apps different to Edge browser. Below I will explain how to activate and deactivate Edge. Send information to Microsoft about how to write: This function allows you to improve auto-suggestions. It is supposed to be for what we write on the keyboard, or with the manual writing on touchscreens.

Let websites offering relevant local content: If you speak another language other than English, this feature could be useful. Feel free to turn it off.

In short, you can disable all these settings and not notice any striking difference. Additionally, you can use the free application for Windows 10 DoNotSpy allowing 37 points off privacy with just one click.

In Windows 10, just like iOS or Android, you can use your location to provide better user experience in certain applications, for example, you can check your location so you do not have to enter your zip code every time you look at what the weather is in your neighborhood, or to show where you are on the maps. However, you are likely to have to share your location with a number of trusted partners such as meteorological service. In a normal desktop computer, this will probably not bring much advantage as it does to a mobile device such as a tablet or a smartphone, you can disable this entirely if you prefer. You only go to: Settings → Privacy → Location and view the list of applications on the bottom. You can disable applications individually, or completely disable this feature above. Just keep in mind that the general location needs to be active or Cortana will not work.

Cortana and start menu search

Cortana has some of the tightest privacy functions, but is also one of the most useful features of the new Windows, this means you have to decide between your privacy or part of that utility. To work, Cortana records your voice (to understand what you say), your location (to adjust the answers to where you are), you write (to answer), contacts (so you can refer to them), the events of your calendar (to create, edit, or give information about them), and more. That's a lot of privacy. Of course, not much different from Siri or Google Now, which also collect a lot of data (on your smartphone instead of the PC). Fortunately, like those other attendees, Cortana is easy to disable if you want an iron privacy. To do that you must change the following options:

  • Disable Cortana: Open the Start menu and type something. Click on the notepad icon on the left side and select Settings. From there you can disable and Cortana.
    Search online and web results include: When you turn off Cortana, this option will appear. You can disable it if you do not want to make any suggestion from the start menu, which also records what you type and sends it to Microsoft for their predictions automatically. Exactly the same as Google.com, Chrome or Firefox.
  • Get to know me: In Settings → Privacy → Voice input handwritten script is a function called Sending information to Microsoft explained above is the major privacy concern Windows 10. Much of the reason is that they use such vague language that specifies how and when to they use you data, say, what you are writing. That is very problematic.

This is the type of function that users can disable at any time. Microsoft does not collect personal information through this feature. What is collected is only for process improvement purposes. For example, to improve the handwriting to text translation engine, or to enrich the Windows dictionary and spelling functions. The data goes through a rigorous multiple filter to ensure what is collected is not identifiable information or sensitive data such as email addresses, passwords or alphanumeric codes. Then, the collected data is fragmented into very small sequences so that they can be reconstructed to form an identifiable whole. Samples of collected data are limited. Microsoft does not capture everything you write, or do it all the time.

In short, it is not a Keylogger program. More like a text analysis software that select parts of a sequence and analyzes it for the purpose of self-correction and dictionary. However, once again, the concept of privacy is extremely broad, and the function remains worrying from the user's point of view. If you are concerned about this issue and you prefer to live without Cortana, you just can just turn it off.

Microsoft Edge

This is the new Microsoft browser, like most of the new browsers (and that includes Chrome and Firefox) it includes some features that modernize you browsing experience. Go to: Settings → Advanced Settings. To change any if its settings Cortana and Microsoft Edge: If you are using Cortana, it will track your browsing history to use it as a reference when you ask things. You can disable it if you want.

Show search suggestions when writing: Like the Start menu, Edge records what you type, but it does to offer predictive text. If you do not want it just turn it off. Protect my PC against malicious sites and downloads: As we mentioned in the first section, the SmartScreen Filter can register Web addresses you've visited to try to protect against malicious sites. I recommend leaving it turned on, but if you want to disable it, no one will stop you.

If you do not use Microsoft Edge, these settings matter less, but it's always nice to know where they are.

Synchronize Windows settings

Many features of Windows 10 require a Microsoft account and this data is stored in the cloud or synchronized via the Internet. The most important data privacy are:

  • Sync settings: In Settings → Accounts → Sync settings can decide to share with your other PCs with Windows 10. This includes your desktop wallpaper and theme your browser settings, passwords, accessibility and more. You can disable it here.
  • BitLocker encryption: Encrypts your hard drive. To do this, BitLocker comes pre-installed on all versions of Windows 10. However, if you have the Home Edition, it will automatically store your recovery key with your Microsoft account. There is not much you can do about it except get a Windows 10 Pro for more security features or use an alternative encryption program such as VeraCrypt .

Optionally, you can avoid using a Microsoft account by using a local account during installation, or getting into Settings → Accounts → Your Account and picking the local account option. If you do, note that you cannot download apps from the Windows Store or use many of its functions mentioned above.

Comments and diagnostics

Like many other applications and operating systems, Microsoft can send diagnostic data to help troubleshoot your computer. This option also sends information inadvertently. Perhaps you prefer not to call many memory registers or the apps you use most often. If you go into Settings → Privacy → Comments and diagnostics, you'll see the two points to consider:

  • Frequency: Occasionally, Windows 10 will ask you your opinion about the system. If you do not want to bother with it simply select Never.
  • Diagnosis and use of data: This function can send a lot of information to Microsoft, including how often you use certain applications, which ones you use most often, or capture fragments of a document you're working during a crash. You can change the degree to which it does. You have more information about each one here.

Microsoft does not allow completely disable diagnostic except in Enterprise versions of Windows 10. The basic level of this tool only works with data that is crucial to the operation of Windows, as updates or protection against malicious software.

Manage WiFi Connections

Windows 10 includes a new feature called WiFi sense that allows us to connect to WiFi networks without a password protected making it through Facebook, Outlook or Skype from a friend. In this way, we can automatically connect to the WiFi network from a friend without asking for the password. It is safer to share key access, since your friend can not share that connection. Most of the process is optional, so you should not worry too much about it. You have to activate a check box to share the WiFi network with your contacts, and they have to do the same. However, you can make your WiFi network not to be shared in this way if you add "_optout" at the end of the SSID address. By default, Windows will give the option to connect to networks that your friends have shared with you. If you want to disable it, you can make in Settings → Network and Internet → Wi-Fi → Manage WiFi settings.

Windows updates

Unlike its predecessors, Windows 10 does not offer the ability to disable the updates. Users of Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise and Education have that option through the registration group, but Home editions cannot disable it. This is due to safety reasons, so I do not recommend deactivating. You can always disable specific patches though.

Windows Update also uses a file system share the BitTorrent protocol update information. That's fine, but if you do not want other people to download updates using your bandwidth, you can disable the option: Settings → Updates and Security → Advanced → Updates.

Choose how you want the updates delivered.

On this screen, disable, or better yet change the radio button to include only computers on your local network. This will allow your network equipment upgrade faster, but close access to other Internet users.

Is the Windows 10 operating system Privacy killer in history?

Probably not, but it has its problems. Mainly:

Descriptions of some of the settings are very vague, making it difficult to know when your data is collected or what type of data collected. How to know the function is probably the most insidious in this regard.

All options are opt-out rather than opt-in. In other words, they are enabled by default and you have to disable them. Most users will never dive so deep in the configuration. Al least, Microsoft offers the ability to set more or less everything to our liking, a step in the right direction. Apart from these problems, there is nothing that we've talked it particularly new. Criminalizing the start menu because it offers predictive text seems a bit out of place, especially when we have been use that same technology in Google.com, Chrome and Firefox for years. Most functions also exist in other operating systems and, of course, on your smartphone.

This does not mean you should stop worrying about privacy. It is a personal decision. If you feel uncomfortable with any of the above settings here, or if you do not trust what Microsoft does with the data, simply disable them, but beware you have to sacrifice certain new features. Just be aware that Microsoft is far from being the only company that does this, so be sure to check your privacy settings in other applications or operating systems (such as the browser or OSX). The only way to protect all your data is by disconnecting to the Internet.