Paradoxically, Windows 10 has arrived with a whole host of security improvements over previous versions, yet has introduced some potential security pitfalls. Some of these will depend on how end users configure and use their copy of Windows 10, others depend on Microsoft to safely implement a whole raft of connectivity and cloud-dependent features.
“Windows 10 should be more secure than any prior version of Windows.”
Speaking to CSO Online, a resource for security professionals, a spokesperson for Cylance confirms that Windows 10 is likely to be the most secure iteration of Microsoft’s flagship operating system. However, that will still be dependent on anti-malware protection and training end users in corporations to avoid the mistakes that typically open up the system to attack.
Continued support for legacy software by Windows 10 was also noted by a spokesperson for Norton as significant. It doesn’t matter how well “walled gardens” work at restricting the power of new apps to alter important Windows 10 files, many users will continue to use old software they purchased on Windows 10, some of which will have security issues, opening up the whole system to attack.
Microsoft has also added a number of access points for themselves into the system. For example, their ability to remove pirated games, roll out patches automatically, and significant improvements to the support for the cloud in Windows 10. None of these features automatically make Windows 10 insecure, but they open up more avenues where security vulnerabilities could arise, which wouldn’t exist if Windows 10 was less connected, and included less backdoors for Microsoft to access and make changes — rooting around to find and delete games requires a lot of access, by definition.
However, it’s not all bad news for Windows 10, with almost everything Microsoft is trying to bring to the table with the OS good for security. One of the highlights, reported by ZDNet, is the addition of Windows Hello. This brings biometric authentication to Windows 10, which even MacWorld notes gives Windows 10 a slight edge over the desktop Mac experience, which has yet to benefit from this technology.
Automatic security updates will reduce the number of Windows 10 users who are unpatched — the blight of XP. However, with the differences between the home and professional versions, Windows 10 will see some small businesses with a “bring your own device” policy see several users with the home version, on default settings, which can leave them less secure than a typical corporate machine in the past, as noted by Bank Info Security.
There’s also the problem of automatic discovery of Xboxes and other Windows 10 devices on home networks by corporate devices taken home. It’s likely many businesses will have to disable those features to ensure maximum security in Windows 10 laptops given to employees.
[Image Source: Windows Press Center, Microsoft]