The long-awaited Windows 10 brings along improved usability and security, new features and enhancements. However, the new OS also proves to be very demanding in terms of collected data. Windows 10 includes a host of tracking features that monitor user activity without explicit prior consent and report it to Microsoft. Rolling back to Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 does not help the issue since Windows Update delivers identical features across the global user network.
So what are we dealing with? What can Windows 10 learn about you exactly?
- Anything you type. Effectively, Windows 10 includes an embedded keylogger
- Any credentials. Logins and passwords to web sites, social networks, data storage, etc.
- Your geo coordinates (GPS, AGPS or approximate IP-based coordinates)
- Your entire web browsing history and search queries
- Wi-Fi access points and their passwords
- List of installed apps
- Your address book, calendar entries, events and meetings
- The contents of emails and chats (encrypted messengers like Telegram are vulnerable all the same)
- Your content preferences including the names of audio tracks and videos you’re playing.
The list goes on…
The only viable solution is using specific third party software. The market offers several well-reputed solutions with comparable yet varying functionality. Simply put, the differentiator here is how deeply the privacy software digs into the problem, what types of apps can be rendered harmless and what stability tools are factored in.
Here is what most Windows 10 system cleaners do:
- Delete or disable Telemetry (in the OS and MS Office 2016)
- Clear and disable DiagTrack Log
- Block or remove over 37 tracking services (found in Cortana background tracking services, Media Center, Customer Experience Improvement Program, Windows Search, etc.)
- Disable the keylogger, preventing Microsoft from collecting information you type on your keyboard
- Block IP addresses from the tracking network by creating Windows Firewall rules
Technical gibberish aside, these operations help you save resources (Metro and Universal apps, for instance, are very resource-hungry) and disable Windows Update and Windows Defender that may brazenly thwart your everyday work, at the very least.
These are the essentials, extras include blocking Microsoft IP addresses (over 70) engaged in user activity tracking on host level, camera/microphone protection from authorized remote activation, contacts/calendar data protection, location in stealth mode, Wi-Fi history protection, system back-up and many other.
The list of the most feature-packed solutions includes SoftOrbits’ Privacy Protector for Windows 10, covering basic and extended functionality, as well as Ashampoo AntiSpy for Windows 10, Windows Privacy Tweaker and other similar programs that miss on Metro Apps, Windows Defender and Windows Update neutralization options as well as blocked Microsoft IPs.
Privacy utilities enable you to regain control over what Windows is allowed to know, restricting the amount of collected information, blocking the system from tracking your activities and sending keylogger data to Microsoft.
Do a little research of your own and make sure you are in the driver’s seat when it comes to privacy and free choice of the content you want to receive or transmit. At the end of the day, it’s what web-enabled computing is all about.