If you have upgraded, so to speak, your OS to Windows 10, you are probably facing a host of privacy concerns. Some of these privacy issues include a high number of ads coming through, and data reporting to Microsoft that users cannot opt out of.
You are not the only Windows 10 user facing privacy concerns. There are possibly 399 million other users trying to protect their privacy while using Windows 10. You can regain a sense of your private self by changing some (not all) settings on the OS. Here are five ways to do that:
Disable Cortana’s “Get to Know You” Feature
Microsoft’s idea of designing a really cool virtual assistant is to let it gather data that can be extremely damaging in the wrong hands. Cortana, Microsoft’s Siri, has a “get to know you” feature supposedly to improve the manner in which you interact with your computer. However, in the process of getting to know you, Cortana gathers data such as your typing pattern, handwriting pattern and even speech patterns. In addition, your contact, calendar, location, and worse, browsing history, info might also be collected. Big Brother would be proud.
To turn off this horrifying feature, go to the Settings menu, the Speech, Inking and Typing section and locate getting to know me. Disable the feature by clicking on stop. You can alternatively go to Cortana’s settings menu to delete information collected under the “change what Cortana knows about me” section.
Turn Off Location Tracking
If you are using Windows 10 on a mobile device, having location tracking enabled will make it convenient to interact with certain apps. However, it’s not smart to have location tracking enabled all the time. Windows 10 can store your device location history for 24 hours and share this data with third-party apps.
Go to Settings menu, Location, and turn off the feature. You have the option to turn off location for all users or a single account. While you are at this setting, you can also delete location history and adjust which apps have access to your location.
Windows 10 is constantly syncing your accounts, including passwords, with other devices you have signed onto with the same account. Even notifications are synced now. This level of integration, while useful in some cases, also leaves you very vulnerable. So, it’s best to have syncing turned off when you don’t need it.
To turn off syncing, go to Settings, Accounts and Sync Your Settings. You can turn off individual syncing features or all syncing at once. Keep in mind that when syncing is off, you might have to manually enter passwords when logging onto various devices.
Lock the Lock Screen
Anyone who turns on the screen of your device will be able to see the information displayed on the lock screen. It’s wise to not make this information available to strangers. So, on Windows 10, you might want to lock down your lock screen.
Go to Settings, System, Notifications and actions tab. Locate the “show notifications on the lock screen” setting here and disable it. Now, strangers won’t be able to see your personal notifications on the lock screen.
Turn off Advertising ID
Your Advertising ID, assigned to each unique Microsoft account, is what makes the company collect your information to offer personalized ad experiences. When your Ad ID is on, information such as your age, gender, location, and interests may be shared with third-party advertisers to make ads more targeted towards you.
Ad IDs can bring a whole host of problems so it’s smart to simply go to the Privacy settings, General tab and disable the availability of Ad ID to apps.
Following the above tips will not make you 100% safe against a possible privacy violation, but it will certainly limit your risk for a hack or a data theft.