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Windows 10 Security Issues Still Persist

In July, 2015, all Windows users were prompted by pop ups that a free upgrade to Windows 10 was available for them. All the users needed to do was to register and launch a Windows 10 upgrade for their system and the update would be pushed to their system from Microsoft’s servers.

This free upgrade prompt resulted in around 14 million upgrades to the latest Windows operating system within 24 hours on it’s launch date (July 29, 2015). The numbers have since soared to 400 million, with an estimated usage share of 27.72% on traditional PCs. However, despite boasting of attractive features, Windows 10 quickly had its reputation questioned for security flaws pointed out by several industry experts. In fact, 18 months later it is still being challenged by data protection authorities.

Here are the main security issues associated with Windows 10:

1. Advertising ID

Windows 10 assigns an advertising ID to each device you use. The advertising ID is assigned automatically and is tied your email address. This advertising ID is basically used to tailor advertisements for web browsing. It is basically a method to collect your activity to filter out ads that might interest you. This is similar to the method used by Google to enhance your search engine results and ads that are displayed on your browser. Although it is a means to personalize your browser, it functions by tracking your activity online.

2. Default Data Syncing

All your personal data like your apps settings, browser history, etc. are automatically synced to Microsoft’s servers. The biggest concern here is that even Wi-Fi passwords and hotspot passwords are synced. This is done to support the Wi-Fi Sense feature, which can be used to share your passwords with contacts.

3. Cortana’s data collection

Windows 10 introduced Cortana. Microsoft’s personal assistant was popular with Windows phone users, and it is one of the reasons why people were so keen on the Windows 10 OS. However, Cortana collects a lot of your personal data without even asking you for it. Cortana can collect keystrokes, credit card passwords, online purchases, etc.

4. Personal data Sharing

Microsoft’s Terms of Service and Privacy Policy claim that they can share any of your personal data with any third party without your consent. Although they do ask for your consent in the installation process of Windows 10, they can share your personal information like passwords, your ID, usage data, location data, etc. if they feel it can serve to protect you or to enforce the terms of service governing the services.

What can you do?

There are a few things you can do to tweak your Windows 10 Operating system to store less of your personal data.

  1. Turn off the “Have Cortana Assist Me in Microsoft Edge” option in Advanced Settings of Edge. This prevents Edge from sending your browsing history to Microsoft.
  2. You can delete the interests that Cortana has stored about your usage as well as other data that it stored to personalize your system.
  3. Do not create a Microsoft account that Microsoft prompts you to do. It serves as a single platform to collect and store all your data across all the devices you use. Not creating a Microsoft account will at least prevent your other devices from Microsoft’s data collection.

In Conclusion

Windows 10 is surely a decent option for people who want to use a smooth and efficient operating system. However, as we pointed out above, there are a number of security issues in the OS. With data leaks getting more common even in major corporations, Microsoft’s insistence on collecting so much information about its users seems questionable.

Related: Tutorial on how to set up NordVPN on Windows 10



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