Upon installation, Windows 10 defaults to some pretty serious privacy invasions. Here are some steps you can take to keep your personal data private.
Since the July 29 release of Windows 10, the tech world has been talking about the latest OS update from Microsoft. A mere 24 hours after its release, more than 14 million users had downloaded Windows 10.
The quick ramp up was due, in part, to Microsoft releasing the update as a free download for existing Windows users. Windows 10 also came with a new service model as Windows will be releasing service packs every few months to users.
The model itself got some backlash, especially from organizations that don't want to upgrade their system that frequently. More recently, though, some criticism has arisen over privacy concerns brought on by the new OS.
The first issue is that Windows 10 automatically assigns an advertising ID to each user on a device tied to the email address that's on file. Using that ID, the company can tailor ads for web-browsing and using certain applications.
The next concern is that much of users' personal data is synced with Microsoft's servers. Some of this information, like your WiFi password, can then be encrypted and shared with your contacts, using a feature called WiFi sense. Although, some have argued that this isn't a security risk, because the user must choose to share the network.
Additionally, Microsoft's personal assistant, Cortana, must collect data as well to provide the kind of service it does, but it is likely not better or worse than its Apple and Google contemporaries.
"We will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary to protect our customers or enforce the terms governing the use of the services."
The problem is that many users want personalized services, but it's difficult to draw the line at what data should be collected. Forrester's Tyler Shields said that instead of making these features default, Microsoft could have allowed users to opt-in later if they wanted to enable them.
"This is more of a privacy-friendly stance that may have been palatable to the general public," Shields said. "However, Microsoft would have had less adoption to its value added services had it made them opt-in, thus lessening the potential success of the Windows 10 launch."
So, how do you protect yourself from these issues? Here are some steps you can take to opt-on or disable some of the problematic features.
The first thing to note is that, if you haven't yet installed Windows 10 but you plan on doing so, make sure you that you do a custom install so you'll be able to pick and choose what is enabled at the onset. But, if you installed Windows 10 using Express settings, you can still disable some of the default privacy settings.
From the start button, click "Settings" and then click "Privacy" and click the "General" tab on the left sidebar. Under that tab you'll see a few sliders where you can toggle certain features on or off.
The top toggle button is the most important as it disables the advertising ID for each user. But, if you want to cover your bases, you should go ahead disable the rest of the options as well.
NOTE: Full article has screenshots of settings that need change.