Windows 10 is quite different from its predecessors in a lot of ways. It effectively integrated Cortana and Microsoft Edge into its system. Microsoft also improved on Windows Apps. It provided seamless integration of third-party software.
Windows 10 is also the first Microsoft operating system that aimed to unify desktop, tablet, and mobile experience. It aims to be flexible enough to run on any device. It is much similar to what Ubuntu attempted a few years ago.
However, one of the best selling points of Windows 10 is its security. It boasts an overhaul of the operating system’s native security systems. Microsoft has always been considered the weakest for years as far as safety is concerned. Now, it aims to regain its credibility in security through Windows 10.
In a conference back in 2015, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella promised a better era of security for its customers. “When it comes to privacy, we will ensure your data is private and is under your control,” Nadella said. He highlighted the efforts of the company to follow compliance with data management and transparency. “…we will ensure that all your data is secure,” he added.
How Protected Am I in Windows 10?
Windows 10 security system revolves around the Windows Defender Security Center application. Windows Defender groups its features into five major functions. You can refer to our article on how secure is Windows 10 for more details.
Virus & Threat Protection
The Virus & threat protection is the flagship antivirus for Windows 10. It functions just like any antivirus application. Additionally, users can run any third-party antivirus in this window as well. Microsoft is making sure that security updates are included in its Patch Tuesday.
Device Performance & Health
Device performance & health provides an overview of your system’s current status. It includes Windows updates, drivers, battery, and storage. The Refresh Windows features is an excellent last resort solution for infected machines. This option allows you to remove all applications and start fresh. Your files and some basic Windows settings will remain untouched.
Firewall & Network Protection
The Firewall & network protection is an improvement over its older versions. Network configurations and firewall settings are adjusted in this option as well.
App & Browser Control
App & browser control is Microsoft’s attempt to protect users from themselves. Typical infections are results or careless browsing habits. This feature will warn you of any malicious sites, questionable downloads, and unidentified applications and files.
Lastly, Family options is a feature long-awaited in Windows operating systems. The family feature handles security information and settings in one central location. Activity reports of other users and their apps and games are displayed in this window as well.
Is Windows Defender Enough?
Ideally, operating systems should protect themselves from potential threats. However, cyber-attacks are getting better and better. Native security applications are typically not enough.
Microsoft has long been known as average at best in security applications. Mac OS typically outperforms Windows operating systems. Even Linux variants such as Ubuntu and Mint provide better security than Windows.
Microsoft aims to redeem its name in security through Windows 10. The latest version of the operating system is the most secure. The company also made sure regular security updates are available. They also react quickly to emergency situations such as the WannaCry crisis.
The Laboratory Test Results
In recent laboratory tests, Windows Defender is improving. From the abysmal results in 2015 to one of the top security solutions today, Defender has come a long way. However, beyond its improvements, different laboratories report mixed results.
AV-Test Institute reported the most favorable results. Windows Defender scored 99% in protection against zero-day malware attacks and 99.7% in detecting threats. It is very close to the industry standard. Testing against security, performance, and usability Windows Defender was robust.
SE Labs testing declared Microsoft as the best free antimalware of 2020.
AV-Comparatives also awarded good ratings to Microsoft Defender. On its tests, the security system scored 99.7% during Feb-May 2020. It is currently 99.2%.
Should you ditch Windows Defender altogether? No. For users who browse social media, receives a couple of emails a day and downloads one or two files, Windows Defender is an adequate baseline protection. It integrates well especially if you’re using Microsoft applications. It also automatically steps in when your third-party security is not present.
However, there are free security solutions which scored higher than Microsoft. Additionally, virus and malware threats should be handled well by dedicated applications.
What is the Best Free Antivirus for Windows 10?
Difference between Antivirus and Anti-Malware
If there are antivirus programs, why is there a need for antimalware? Why do you need to worry about malware? First, we need to know the difference between a virus and malware.
Viruses rose in popularity during the 1990s. A virus is a piece of program that can install itself on a system. It rapidly multiplies itself even over a network. Some are distributed over emails as well.
Some viruses can also change their signature to avoid detection from antivirus programs. The primary purpose of a virus is to destroy data. Eventually, digital vandalism is not enough for cybercriminals.
Malicious software or malware is an umbrella term for programs that can harm a system. A virus is a type of malware. Virus developers don’t earn anything directly from destroying data. Other variants of malware were born out of the aggressive monetization of hackers.
An example is an adware, which collects browsing habits. Its intrusive method of advertisement disrupts basic operations. More potent derivatives can inflict more damage.
Spywares live on your computer collecting data. It includes sensitive banking and credit card information. Rootkits open your computer to third-party control. One of the most threatening malware is ransomware.
It takes hold of systems and blocks any kind of access. Users will be unable to use the computer and access files and data. Hackers will demand money to release the system from the ransomware.
Why should I use an Anti-Malware?
As malware variants increase, companies producing antiviruses evolved. Companies began offering antivirus and anti-malware in one. Others began developing full security suites with extensive security features.
So, why consider dedicated anti-malware applications?
By focusing on anti-malware, developers can hone in on accurate detection and protection. Antivirus software only deals with a subset of malware. Antimalware is developed to identify existing variants and remove them from your system.
Additionally, some antimalware applications can even prevent unknown threats from infiltrating your system. More importantly, some updates have anti-ransomware in place to avoid another WannaCry disaster.
Best Anti-Malware for Windows 10
Windows Defender has improved a lot as Microsoft updates it frequently. However, it is useful as baseline protection. That is why you still need a full antivirus application. The third-party security suite performs significantly better than Windows Defender.
Additionally, you should install a robust anti-malware program as well. Malware variants have evolved rapidly throughout the years. Anti-malware applications can protect you from existing risks and anonymous threats. Most have anti-ransomware, which adds another layer of protection.