Microsoft Gets Serious About Security in Windows 10

Microsoft just published a series of big security improvements that will be coming in Windows 10.  Security has become a much larger concern for a lot of us.  For instance when I moved into my home the only real problem was had was getting overwhelmed with kids on Halloween.  A decade and a half later the house is surrounded by security cameras, I’ve had to install a secure mailbox because folks are driving by stealing mail, and home invasion robberies appear to be weekly events in the city.

Are credit cards are less and less secure, this month alone we’ve had two cards compromised when it used to be unusual for one card to get hit a decade.   And with governments and large crime organizations out of the Middle East, Asia, and Eastern Europe spreading viruses our PCs, Tablets, and Smartphones are increasingly at risk.  Unlike earlier versions of Windows, Windows 10 will enter the far more hostile world we live in and, were it human, I think it would look around, scream and go back into Microsoft’s womb.

Since that isn’t an option Microsoft announced a major change in Windows 10 Security and this is what it’ll mean when you install, or buy a new PC that runs, Windows 10.

Your Smartphone PC Key

You are going to get a choice of security methods I’m going to recommend you use the harder one.  The choice is you can either authorize your device which will allow you to log into it with a simple PIN or you can use your Smartphone like a key.  The second method will require you keep your smartphone with you but it will prevent someone else from using your PC or possibly authorizing their own to get access to your stuff.  Phones are far harder to copy and you are far more likely to know immediately if someone has yours (and so can wipe it remotely).  Granted if you lose your phone a lot this will become rather annoying pretty quickly but then that might in turn make you more responsible with your phone.

Using Bluetooth, WiFi, or maybe even NFC you can use your phone and pin number of biometric reader to gain access to your PC and keeping others from doing the same.   The result can still be pretty seamless. 

A Token of Microsoft’s Affection

This speaks to one of the invisible threats that we don’t talk about much.  You see once you log into a service it gives you a token so you don’t have to keep logging in every time you want to enter something.  This is all transparent to you but the problem is that folks have been stealing these tokens from machines and using them like keys to get into your bank accounts and other secure services, well services you believed were secure and really aren’t it today’s world.

Well in Windows 10 you get a virtual safe to put these tokens in and they go in it automatically so you don’t have to learn anything new.   In effect Windows 10 gets a free, automatic, virtual digital safe that’ll you’ll never see but will still keep you safe.  While this may not be as fun as the invisible friend you had as a child it is far more useful. 

Lock Down Your Stupidity

This has both positive and negative aspects to it.  This feature, which has been all forms of Windows, becomes enhanced.  Previously the company you work for could flip a digital switch preventing you from installing anything on your PC that didn’t come from your firm.   Everybody but the folks that ran company computer departments hated this feature and outside of some banks and Germany for some reason it was rarely used.   But given the proliferation of virus laden apps using this feature has never been more attractive to those who run company computer departments (called IT).   However with Windows 10 they get a lot of choices how to do this they can simply specify that you are only allowed to load signed apps (where you can tell who made them), apps from the Windows store which have been vetted, or, as before, apps that IT itself has specifically approved.  This means they can keep you from doing stupid stuff like installing unsigned apps.  (I did this myself a few weeks back and had to completely reload my laptop on the road as a result, it wasn’t a lot of fun). 

So, with Windows 10, you get a better balance of what your company wants and what you want while still becoming far safer.

Wrapping Up:  Looking Better All the Time

Much of what you will be hearing about Windows 10 this year will have to do with things that make you safer and your company IT folks happier.  Next year as we get closer to the launch you’ll start hearing about things that make the OS more fun and interesting.  In any case this OS release is already looking far better than the ones we are used to because each improvement so far does hit a clear user need with this week’s focusing on our need to feel and be safer.   Like I expect you are, however, I’m even more interested in the fun stuff that’ll come next year.