Due to many hardware manufacturers, there is no single version of Windows 10. Every time Microsoft releases a new Windows 10 variant, they have to adjust it according to different manufacturers to match their compatibility. This makes Windows OS more vulnerable to cyber threats, unlike macOS. It is essential to take protective measures to save your Windows 10 device from external threats as they can create havoc on your system.
Many Windows 10 users spend a lot amount on third-party security solutions for protecting their devices. However, Microsoft has already provided many in-built Windows 10 Security Features sufficient for overall security and privacy protection. The problem is many of these features are disabled by default.
If you are concerned about the security and privacy of your Windows 10 device and do not want to invest in heavy third-party applications, here is the list of top 10 Inbuilt Windows 10 security features that you must enable.
The Reputation-based protection feature of Windows 10 helps the users protect their devices from harmful, potentially unwanted applications (PUA). PUAs are not technically malware but still can be dangerous and become a gateway for malware programs. Also, since PUAs are unwanted, they unnecessarily take valuable hard disk space.
To enable reputation-based protection, follow these steps:
Open Windows settings
Choose Update and Security settings.
From the left pane, select Windows Security.
Navigate to App & browser control.
Click on Reputation-based protection settings.
Scroll down and look for the Potentially unwanted app blocking option and switch it ON. Also, enable the Block apps and Block downloads options.
From this setting page, you can also enable the
- SmartScreen for the Microsft Edge
- SmartScreen for the Microsoft Store apps.
Ransomware Protection by Controlled Folder Access
Ransomware is one of the deadliest malware programs. Ransomware Protection is another fantastic feature included in Windows 10 by Microsoft. The Controlled Folder Access settings under Ransomware Protection enable you to prevent unauthorized access to your essential folders. It means that no application or code could access the files stored in those folders. This would basically save your important files from potential Ransomware attacks.
Follow these steps to enable the Controlled Folder Access:
- Navigate to Settings -> Update & Security -> Windows Security
- Select Virus & threat protection
- Under Ransomware Protection, click on Manage ransomware protection.
- Switch ON the Controlled Folder Access
- After enabling it, click on the Protected folders to add the folders.
Core Isolation is a Windows 10 feature that comes with a brilliant option known as Memory Integrity. This feature confines computer processes from the software and hardware and enables an extra security layer against malicious attacks such as rootkits.
Memory Integrity uses hardware virtualization and Hyper-V to prevent attempts of any malware injection. Here are the steps to enable it:
- Open Windows Settings and navigate to Update & Security -> Windows Security.
- Click on Device Security
- Under Core Isolation, click on Core isolation details.
- Enable the Memory Integrity by toggling the switch ON.
- Reboot the device to make the changes effective.
Network Scanning is a hidden option of Windows Defender that scans the network files on the system for any potential threat. Surprisingly this option is disabled by default in Windows 10. However, you can enable it manually using PowerShell.
- From the Windows search bar, search for the PowerShell
- Run it as administrator.
- Type the following command: Set-MpPreference -DisableScanningNetworkFiles 0 and hit the enter key.
That’s it. It will enable the Network Scanning feature. To disable it again, type this command: Set-MpPreference -DisableScanningNetworkFiles 1
Turn OFF Ads and Tracking
Despite buying the licensed version, Microsoft would still show ads to the Windows 10 consumers on the Start Menu and other places. Microsoft also creates an advertising ID for every individual account. This advertising ID is used for displaying users tailored ads by collecting their preferences.
Though tracking and showing ads is by default enabled in Windows 10, you can easily disable it from the settings.
- Go to Windows Settings.
- Select Privacy
- Under General Privacy Settings, disable all the tracking and ad displaying options.
Restrict Diagnostic Data
Microsoft periodically collects the hardware and software diagnostic data to improve the users’ experience on Windows 10 devices. Although you cannot entirely turn off the data collection, you can control what kind of data you want to get collected about you, your device, and the applications you use.
To manage the diagnostic data, follow these steps.
- Navigate to Settings -> Privacy
- From the left pane, select Diagnostics & feedback.
- To restrict the data collection by Microsoft, select the first option. Enabling this option would restrict Microsoft to collect only the system performance information.
On the same setting page, you get the options to Turn off the tailored experience, View diagnostic data, and Delete diagnostic data.
Disable Windows Timeline
Windows 10 has a Timeline feature that keeps the history of the tasks and applications you opened in chronological order so that you can revisit them. In this process, Windows collects a lot of data that can prove heavy on privacy. Fortunately, users can disable the Timeline from the settings.
- Navigate to Settings -> Privacy
- Choose Activity History from the left pane.
- Uncheck the “Send my activity history to Microsoft.“
- On scrolling further, you can hide timeline activities and clear the Activity History.
Manage App Permissions
Like Smartphone devices, you can manage the App Permissions on Windows 10 devices as well.
- Go to Settings
- Choose Apps
- Under Apps & Features, click any of the apps and choose Advanced options.
- Manage the permissions of the app.
Windows 10 is a humongous OS, and that’s why most of its features are hidden or unpopular. By correctly applying the Windows 10 security features listed in this post, you can easily enhance your security from the current level. Although there is very little space for privacy in modern times, we must take every possible step to reduce privacy leakage.
Peter is an Electrical Engineer whose primary interest is tinkering with his computer. He is passionate about Windows 10 Platform and enjoys writing tips and tutorials about it.