Released to an eager public in 2015, Windows 10 does a lot more than speed up your hard drive. The new operating system offers a number of improved security features intended to keep hackers at bay. And those features seem to be working, leading security experts to declare the new OS almost twice as secure as Windows 7.
The proof is in the pudding: When security provider Webroot examined malware infections by operating system, they found a striking difference between machines running Windows 7 and those running Windows 10. While 63% of 2017 malware files appeared on Windows 7 machines, just 15% showed up on Windows 10 devices, and the latter had an average of just 0.04 malware files per device compared to 0.08 on Windows 7.
Here’s a rundown of the new, improved security offerings on Windows 10—and the reasons why you might want to think about upgrading soon.
Security features available on Windows 10
Much to its credit, Microsoft has been working hard to upgrade outdated features and shore up security vulnerabilities evident in older Windows versions. Windows 10 includes new protective measures to keep users safe from phishing attacks, leaks and malware. The most notable updates include the following:
- Multi-factor authentication through Microsoft Passport and Windows Hello
- Improved disk encryption features
- Device Guard, which keeps malware applications from running on devices
- UEFI Secure Boot, which prevents malware from embedding on hard drives
- Automatic updates for Windows 10 software and security patches
Why should you care about these updates?
Unless you read a lot of tech blogs and news articles, you may not immediately understand the importance of these changes, but there are a lot of reasons to love the new security features. Simply put, these updates allow Microsoft to head off malware and unauthorized device access by offering extra checks and authentication features.
Here are some specifics:
- “The end of the password”: Microsoft’s stated goal is to eliminate the need for a password to log into Windows devices and Azure cloud services. With this in mind, Windows 10 allows entry into devices and cloud services through a combination of a Windows-specific pin and biometric identifiers. This creates a strong two-factor authentication system, which is important to prevent unauthorized access to devices and data.
- Device Guard: The biggest benefit of this Windows 10 feature’s is that it “sandboxes” potentially malicious websites—when you visit a site that doesn’t meet Microsoft’s security standards, Device Guard sequesters that site away from your hard drive. If a site tries to install malicious code, it’s contained to limit the impact to your device.
- Secure Boot: Older versions of Microsoft were designed to boot any software installed on them, regardless of its purpose. This opened a window for hackers to install rootkit malware on computers that would run malicious programs in the background while remaining virtually invisible to users. Secure Boot protects Windows 10 users by performing a check every time devices boot up. If an application isn’t approved by Microsoft, it isn’t loaded, thus deterring malware.
- Automatic updates: Software is complicated. Developers (and, often, hackers) are constantly identifying new vulnerabilities in operating systems, which makes regular security patches a necessity. However, these updates can only help if users install them. Unlike its predecessors, Windows 10 doesn’t offer the option to ignore recent updates, meaning all users will be running the safest OS possible.
Migrating to a new OS can be harrowing, particularly if you don’t have a lot of experience upgrading devices. If you’re looking for advice on how to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10, contact our representatives for a free security consultation and show hackers what’s what!