Prevent Windows 10 From ‘Stealing’ Your Data

Microsoft has come up with its latest Operating System (OS) Windows 10, enriched with new features, especially the Edge Browser, Continuum and Cortana. This OS can be seen as a hybrid product made by leveraging the best features of the previous Windows versions 7 and 8. The much familiar start up menu made its come back as well. The most amazing feature inside Windows 10 is Cortana. Cortana is the virtual assistant implemented in Windows 10 OS. The best features of existing digital assistants (Apple’s Siri, Google’s Google Now and Amazon’s Alexa) are  assembled together to make Cortana. Virtual assistant will be a real help in managing calendars, schedules, giving notifications and to perform search.  So what may the manufacturer expect in return for giving away amazing digital stuff to its users? 

 There is talk happening all around regarding the usage of people’s personal data by Google and Facebook. As of now Microsoft was a safe haven, but by introducing Cortana, the virtual assistant, even Microsoft is allegedly aiming to steal personal data. Questions are been raised worldwide regarding this Free OS update, giving free update could be a strategy to intrude into people’s personal life and make use of it thru internet services to gain profit. As of now there is no clear evidence that Microsoft is making use of people’s personal data. While making it clear the Cortana feature is intended not only just to be an assistant but also to fetch some personal data and sent to its server computers and convert the same into money thru internet services and other various methods. The Bing search engine by Microsoft is already doing the job and now its turn for the Operating System.  Search engines always do that but now Microsoft has implemented the same mode of business tricks into the Operating System as well. Earlier Microsoft benefited only once thru its OS sale but now by facilitating channels to track and analyze personal data there opens a way for an ongoing revenue stream.

 Windows 10 is delivered with its Default settings enabled to fetch data from all possible ways. So it is clear that Windows 10 OS is about to make use of personal data. Staying away without upgrading to the latest OS would only work for a few years. Customizing the Windows 10 is an option to safe guard the personal data without getting exposed to the internet economy. In order to customize and stay safe in the Windows 10 Operating System, one must be aware of the ways to disable the necessary settings in the OS.

 Cortana, the digital/virtual helper is very smart in collecting and recording personalized data. Cortana monitors and records web surfing, personal emails and by doing so she gets to know the person’s interests. This information is collected and stored inside Cortana in an editable format, more preferably as a notebook. User can go to this file location clear up these data. Bing search engine history needs to be cleared often. This can be accomplished by clicking on “Manage what Cortana knows about me in the cloud” and also by going in to Bing account personalization settings. 

 In order to avoid Microsoft from intruding into your personal life, don’t link the Windows 10 OS to your Microsoft account. Cortana would be available only once the user has logged in with an active Microsoft account. So while during OS set up avoid usage of Microsoft account. All other features would available even though this step has skipped. But there are lot of other possibilities still on by default in windows 10 OS to collect varied personal data. The default browser will be Microsoft Bing, and it records data even if the user is not logged in and tries to deliver personalized ads to the anonymous according to his/her taste. Users can contact to disable ad tracking and set edge browser settings to off to avoid the predicted page pre-loading. Microsoft has designed the Windows 10 OS default settings in a way to fetch user information such as computers unique ID, camera, microphone, location, etc. These settings will be automatically turned on if you select express settings in the OS.  Turn off these settings manually to be in a comfort zone

 Follow the below steps to increase privacy in Windows 10 OS. 

  •   While you install the software in your system, avoid opting express settings. In order to skip that step click on customize setting and disable all the features listed such as in browser and protection, connectivity and error reporting, Personalization, and Location.  As earlier described skip the step of creating a Microsoft account.
  •  If the system is already installed, navigate to settings then to privacy and turn off the unnecessary things, such as providing the locally relevant content thru accessing the language list. Turn off ‘location for this device’ and ‘getting to know me’ (Cortana) options. By turning off getting to know me option, automatic dictation and Cortana is disabled.
  •  Click on feedback & diagnostics, set feedback frequency to never and diagnostics and usage data to basic.
  •  Navigate next to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > Advanced Options > Choose how updates are delivered, turn the switch off. 
  •  Navigate to Update & Security page and click the windows defender and turn off Cloud based Protection and Sample submission.
  •  Navigate Network & Internet in the settings, then go to > Wi-Fi > Manage Wi-Fi settings and Turn off both Wi-Fi sense switches.
  •  Tap on the search bar, click on cog icon to turn off web search and Cortana. 
  •  Alter few set ups in the edge browser as well by opening the browser and navigate to More Actions > Settings > View advanced settings. Turn on Do Not Track requests. Then turn off rest all things 

 Once you complete the above steps successfully, the ads that pop up in your browser would contain totally random content.

Microsoft has promised that they will not make use of the personal data collected by Windows 10 features.  Windows 10 privacy policy states that, “Windows does not collect personal information without your consent. To effectively provide Windows as a service, Microsoft gathers some performance, diagnostic and usage information that helps keep Windows and apps running properly. Microsoft uses this information to identify problems and develop fixes. More information on the Microsoft Services Agreement and Privacy Statement for consumers is available on our website.”

 Without any doubt it can be stated that, the new Windows 10 OS is an innovative product from Microsoft. Privacy concerns are up to the users and now it’s time for you to decide and set the limits up to which your personal data can be a part of this product.

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By Ed Sable | September 1st, 2015 | General

About the Author

Dr. Edward G. Sable President of Macrosoft

Ed Sable

Dr. Edward Sable is President of Macrosoft, Inc. Prior to joining Macrosoft, Ed owned and led a business development consulting firm. Ed generated significant amounts of revenue for small technology companies. Previously, Ed managed divisions at AT&T.Ed is highly knowledgeable in the design and development of software applications and products. He has worked with major companies including Marriott, JC Penney, United Airlines, and others. As President, Ed is leading the strategic development of new processes and products. Accordingly, Ron is dedicated to providing leading-edge, cost-effective systems and solutions for Macrosoft’s clients.

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