More than a billion adults have been the victims of cybercrime. Here are five security-related improvements rolled out through the Windows 10 May 2019 Update that can help you avoid becoming the next victim.
Taking measures to protect your devices can help mitigate the risk and fear of becoming a victim. The more security measures you implement, the better protected you’ll be. Toward that end, Microsoft keeps adding new and improved security tools and functionality to Windows 10 through feature updates. Here are five security-related enhancements that Microsoft rolled out through the Windows 10 May 2019 Update (version 1903) that you might want to take advantage of to better protect your Windows 10 computer:
1. New Password-Less Way to Create and Sign In to Microsoft Accounts
Microsoft believes that passwords are “inconvenient, insecure, and expensive” so it is on a quest to create “a world without passwords”. As part of this endeavor, Microsoft has been providing alternative authentication methods through Windows 10 feature updates and other venues. The Windows 10 May 2019 Update introduces a new way you can set up and log in to your Microsoft account that does not involve using a password.
This is how it works: When you first sign in to Microsoft on a new or reset computer, you provide the phone number that is associated with your Microsoft account. Microsoft will then send you a text message that contains a security code, which you enter in the sign-in screen. Once logged in, you finish setting up the account. Afterward, you need to select and set up an alternative authentication method. For example, you can use Windows Hello to set up biometric authentication (e.g., face or fingerprint recognition).
2. Redesigned “Sign-in options” Page in the Settings App
Microsoft redesigned the “Sign-in options” page in the Settings app to make it easier for Windows 10 users to select and set up an alternative authentication method if desired. Once the May 2019 Update is installed, the “Sign-in options” page — which you can find in the “Accounts” section of the Settings app — clearly outlines the available authentication methods. For example, the indistinct “Windows Hello” option has been replaced with the three main authentication methods available using this solution: “Windows Hello Face”, “Windows Hello Fingerprint”, and “Windows Hello PIN”. Plus, the “Sign-in options” page now includes the “Security Key” option so that you can set up a physical security key (e.g., USB security key) directly from that page.
Besides making it easier to select and set up alternative authentication methods, Microsoft has redesigned some of the supporting processes. For instance, the process used to reset Windows Hello PINs has been streamlined. It is now more like the process used to reset passwords online.
3. Enhancements in the Windows Security App
The Windows Security app lets you view and manage Windows 10’s built-in security tools, such as Windows Firewall and Windows Defender Antivirus. Two enhancements to Windows Security are being rolled out through the May 2019 Update:
- “Tamper Protection”. This new feature is designed to protect against unauthorized changes to security settings in Windows 10. It alerts you if someone or something (e.g., an app) is trying to change an important security setting.
- Redesigned “Protection History” page. This page shows the actions taken by the Windows Security app to protect your computer. It now includes information about attempts to access controlled folders but were blocked by either the “Controlled folder access” tool in the Windows Security app or an Attack Surface Reduction Rule. Microsoft also made the information about the threats detected by Windows Defender Antivirus more detailed and easier to understand.
4. Windows Sandbox
You can save money by using free apps from the Internet. However, there is always the risk that the apps contain malware. The new Windows Sandbox provides you with a safe way to test potentially dangerous apps.
When you launch Windows Sandbox, it uses virtualization technology to create an isolated desktop environment, which is called a sandbox. You then install the untrusted app in the sandbox and run it. If the app contains malware, it won’t infect the computer. When you close Windows Sandbox, the app and all its files are permanently deleted. Windows Sandbox is available in Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise only.
5. Better Control Over Who Can See and Hear You
Spyware is a threat to both individuals and businesses. Hackers use it to get sensitive data or images, which they sell on the dark web marketplace. One way cybercriminals spy on their victims is by using the computers’ microphones and cameras.
To help detect spyware, the May 2019 Update adds a new icon that appears when a computer’s microphone is being used. You can find out which app is using it by hovering your mouse over the icon. If more than one app is using the microphone, it will display the number of apps using it.
In addition, you can now specify whether websites can use your camera and microphone if you use Windows Defender Application Guard. When Application Guard is enabled, Windows 10 launches Microsoft Edge in an isolated virtualized environment so that malicious web pages won’t harm your computer. Application Guard is available in Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise only.