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Securing Your Computer

In this tutorial, we focus on the tools and techniques you can use in Windows 10 to make sure your computer is as secure as possible for you and your family. You learn how to create user accounts, assign permissions (including family safety features), and make sure you've got everything set up properly for a secure computing experience.

Security Before Startup
In Windows 10, PCs that are built on Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) firmware can take advantage of enhanced security features such as Secure Boot, which does a scan and ensures system elements are okay before Windows 10 even boots on your system. For most, just rest secure knowing you have this feature working for you, but if you'd like to learn more about UEFI, you should check out http://www.uefi.org.

Customizing Your Login

It seems like we're always logging in to one thing or another, doesn't it? We log in to our phones, our work computers, our home computers. Most of us want a smooth, simple login experience. Windows 10 offers a number of ways you can log in so that the process reflects what you find easiest to do. You might just log in with a simple four-digit pin or use a picture to draw a pattern on the screen that only you know.

Although biometric security such as Windows Hello is generally more secure than passwords, the same cannot (necessarily) be said about picture passwords or PINs. Picture and PIN passwords can be more convenient, especially on touch-based devices, but that does not mean they're more secure. PIN passwords, in particular, are not more secure than a good alphanumeric password.

New security features in Windows 10 also include Windows Hello , which uses facial recognition and iris scans to authenticate users and ensure the computer's security. These new technologies require infrared cameras on Windows 10 devices, so the practical use of these features might be a little further into the future. Windows Hello also supports existing fingerprint readers, which may be included on laptops or tablets or used as plug-in devices via USB.

Finding Windows Hello
You might be surprised to see that in your Windows Hello settings on the Sign- In Options screen, there's a big smiley face but no way to set up the feature. No options. Nothing to add. You might see a note that says, "Windows Hello isn't available on this device."

This happens because Windows 10 displays the Set Up buttons for Fingerprint and Face features only if your computer is equipped with a fingerprint reader or an infrared camera that gives your system the facial recognition capabilities it needs in order to use Windows Hello.

If you add a fingerprint reader or an infrared camera at a later point, come back to Windows Hello, and you'll see that those options are now available.

Changing a Password

By default, Windows 10 prompts you to log in with your Microsoft account and password. You can, however, change your password at any time or choose different types of passwords (for example, a picture password or a PIN logon) to help with authentication.

  1. Click the Start button to display the Start menu.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Choose Accounts in the Settings window.
  4. Click Sign-In Options.
    Change Password Type
    On the right side of the screen, you may see up to four ways to make changes for your Sign-In Options: Password, PIN, Windows Hello, and Picture Password. (Note that Windows Hello is available only if your system has the capabilities that support the technology for those features.)

  5. In the Password area, click Change. You're prompted to enter your Microsoft Account password. After you enter it, the Change Password screen appears.
  6. In the Change Your Password screen, type your old password in the Old Password box.
    Local Accounts
    If you use a Local Windows account instead of a Microsoft account, this screen will look a bit different, but the basic procedure remains the same.

  7. Click to move the insertion point to the Create Password box, and enter a new password.
  8. Retype the new password in the Reenter Password box.
  9. Click Next. Windows 10 lets you know that you've successfully changed your password, and you can click Finish to return to the Accounts window.

If this is the first time you've changed your password on your Windows 10 computer, the operating system may prompt you with a few security measures before allowing you to change it. You might see a message that asks you to confirm your secondary email address and then enter a code Microsoft sends to that account to ensure your account security. Once you enter the code and click Next, you see the Change Password screen so you can make the change you want.

If you have forgotten the password you used with your Microsoft Account, you can still change your password online. Click the Forgot Your Password? link where you enter your login information, and Windows 10 displays a link you can click to go online to resolve the problem.

Setting Strong Password

A strong password is at least eight characters long and doesn't include recognizable words or number sequences. What's more, you should vary the capitalization of letters, mixing the upper- and lowercase letters. Windows 10 remembers your password as case sensitive, which means that 64GoT48 is a different password from 64gOt48.

Creating a PIN Logon

Chances are you're familiar with using PINs in other areas of your life. You use a PIN for your debit card, and you might have one set on your smartphone, for example. Similarly, Windows 10 enables you to create a four-digit PIN to use when you log in to your computer or device.

  1. Click Sign-In Options in the Accounts section of Settings.
  2. In the PIN area, click Add. Windows 10 prompts you to enter your current password. After you do so, the Set Up a Pin screen appears.
  3. Type the four numbers you want to use as your PIN.
  4. Click in the Confirm PIN box and retype the numbers you entered.
  5. If you want to use numbers, letters, and symbols in your PIN, click the Include Letters and Symbols checkbox. A PIN Requirements link will appear to give you guidelines on how to create an effective PIN.
  6. Click or tap OK. Windows 10 saves your PIN; the next time you log in, you can enter the PIN instead of your password. Windows displays the Start screen immediately, even before you press Enter.

When you create a PIN, Windows 10 insists you use only numbers-and only four of those, if you click the Use a 4-Digit PIN check box when you set up your PIN. This means no alphabetic characters, punctuation symbols, or spaces. This is less secure than a strong alphanumeric password.

Removing a PIN
If you decide you want to remove your PIN later, you can display the Sign-In Options tab of the Accounts screen again and in the PIN area click Remove. You can also change the PIN you created by clicking Change and entering and saving a new PIN.

Creating a Picture Password

Here are the steps to add a picture password:

  1. Display the Accounts window in Settings, and click Sign-In Options.
  2. In the Picture Password area, tap or click Add. Select Create a Picture Password. Windows prompts you to enter your current password. Type it and click OK.

    Before you can create the picture password, Windows 10 prompts you to enter your password to confirm that it is authentically you wanting to change the password style.
  3. The Welcome to Picture Password window appears, giving you instructions about the process of creating a picture password. Click Choose Picture. The Open window appears.
  4. Locate and select the picture you want to use.
  5. Click Open.
  6. If you want to adjust the picture, drag it to the right or left, up or down.
  7. Click Use This Picture.

    Change the Picture
    If you want to choose a different image instead, click Choose New Picture and repeat steps 4 through 7.
  8. Using your finger or mouse, draw three gestures on the picture. For a moment after you draw on the screen, an arrow shows how Windows recorded the movement. When prompted, repeat the gestures. If you don't make exactly the same gestures, Windows prompts you to try again.

    If you don't like the gesture you've used, you can tap or click Start Over to create new gestures.
  9. After you draw the gestures correctly, Windows displays a Congratulations message. Click Finish to save the picture password.

Don't panic if you forget your picture password. Windows 10 can help you. Go to the Sign-In Options page of the Accounts window and tap the Change button in the Picture Password area. In the next window, after you enter your Microsoft Account password, you can click Replay to see a repeat of the gestures you used to create your password. You can also create a new picture password if you prefer.

Removing a Picture Password
If you want to remove your picture password, display the Sign-In Options screen of the Accounts window. Click the Remove button that now appears to the right of the Change button in the Picture Password area to delete the picture password you added.

One thing you're likely to discover quickly: Picture passwords are very particular. Windows 10 might not record your gesture exactly as you think you entered it. If you draw an arc on the screen, Windows might close it to create a circle. Or the line you purposely skewed might show up straight. Use the Try Again option to display the gestures Windows 10 is expecting.

It can also help to use a photo that has very definite patterns or lines you can follow and remember easily. Too many curves or too much abstraction can leave you wondering about the specific gestures you need to enter. On the other hand, following an image's precise curves or features is easier for someone else to guess.

For Bluetooth Machines: Dynamic Lock
If your PC or tablet has Bluetooth capabilities, you can rely on Windows Hello to lock your device for you automatically when you walk out of Bluetooth range. To set things up, begin by turning on Bluetooth and pairing your PC and phone so they are connected.

To turn on Dynamic Lock on your Windows 10 computer, display the Sign In Options window, and click the Allow Windows to Detect When You're Away and Automatically Lock the Device check box. Now anytime you pick up your phone and walk away, as soon as you get out of Bluetooth range, Windows 10 automatically locks your computer.