How to Keep Windows Secure

Introduction

While Windows 10 is the most secure Windows to ever be made, yet there are still some things you can do to tighten that security.

In this guide we'll go over:

  • Passwords
  • Automatic Updates
  • Built in Firewall and Defender
  • Antiviral Programs
  • Data Backups
We'll get started with making sure your log in password is strong.

1 Select Password

Wherever possible, you should pick a password that is impossible to guess and is also resistant to brute-force attacks.

Some devices or systems do not allow special characters or they may have their own requirements.

Password Dos and Don'ts

Dos
Green Check
  • Passwords should be long, 8-12 characters or more.
  • Passwords should be something easy for you to remember, but hard for others to guess or lookup.
  • Passwords should have lots of different character types: upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Replacing letters with symbols is a simple way to achieve this: use @ for a, and ( for c, as example.
  • Passwords are personal, most services have a way to create a 'linked' account or share services with trusted friends and family.
  • Change passwords regularly. Every 90 to 180 days; this helps keep your accounts from being compromised long-term.
  • If you must write down a password or make note of it, do so only in specially designed programs, or keep and hold the physical copies with the same care and respect you would a social security card or birth certificate. Remember; anyone with your password "is you".
Example of a good password
Don'ts
Red X
  • Don't use short passwords; computers can guess them very easily.
  • Don't use a common word you can find in a dictionary.
  • Don't use information that can be looked up or guessed, such as a birthday, anniversary, or pet's name.
  • Don't use the same password for everything. If one password is compromised, all of the same ones are compromised across all your accounts.
  • Don't share passwords. People with your password "are you" to a computer system, or a service.
  • Don't keep the same password forever. Assume that, at some point, it will be guessed, seen, or otherwise compromised, and it must be changed.
  • Don't write down passwords in the open, or save them in non-encrypted files on your computer.
Example of a bad password
Password Resources

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While Windows 10 is the most secure Windows to ever be made, yet there are still some things you can do to tighten that security.

In this guide we'll go over:

  • Passwords
  • Automatic Updates
  • Built in Firewall and Defender
  • Antiviral Programs
  • Data Backups
We'll get started with making sure your log in password is strong.

Wherever possible, you should pick a password that is impossible to guess and is also resistant to brute-force attacks.

Some devices or systems do not allow special characters or they may have their own requirements.

Password Dos and Don'ts

Dos
Green Check
  • Passwords should be long, 8-12 characters or more.
  • Passwords should be something easy for you to remember, but hard for others to guess or lookup.
  • Passwords should have lots of different character types: upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Replacing letters with symbols is a simple way to achieve this: use @ for a, and ( for c, as example.
  • Passwords are personal, most services have a way to create a 'linked' account or share services with trusted friends and family.
  • Change passwords regularly. Every 90 to 180 days; this helps keep your accounts from being compromised long-term.
  • If you must write down a password or make note of it, do so only in specially designed programs, or keep and hold the physical copies with the same care and respect you would a social security card or birth certificate. Remember; anyone with your password "is you".
Example of a good password
Don'ts
Red X
  • Don't use short passwords; computers can guess them very easily.
  • Don't use a common word you can find in a dictionary.
  • Don't use information that can be looked up or guessed, such as a birthday, anniversary, or pet's name.
  • Don't use the same password for everything. If one password is compromised, all of the same ones are compromised across all your accounts.
  • Don't share passwords. People with your password "are you" to a computer system, or a service.
  • Don't keep the same password forever. Assume that, at some point, it will be guessed, seen, or otherwise compromised, and it must be changed.
  • Don't write down passwords in the open, or save them in non-encrypted files on your computer.
Example of a bad password
Password Resources
  1. Click the Start button then the Settings gear.
    Windows 10 start menu showing settings highlighted

  2. Click Accounts.
    Windows 10 settings menu showing Accounts highlighted

  3. Click Sign-In Options then click Change (or Add if this is first time setting up a password).
    Windows 10 account settings showing sign in options and add password highlighted

  4. If you are changing your password, you'll be prompted to type in your current password.
    Windows 10 popup to reenter your password

  5. If you log in using a Microsoft Account, Microsoft will text you a code using the number associated with your account. You'll have to verify the last four digits of your number first and then type in the code when you receive it.
  6. Now enter your old password and then your new password.
    Windows 10 change your password popup

  7. That's it! Your password is now changed.

Some precautions should be taken in order to keep your password secure.

Best practices:

  • Do not use a master password that you use everywhere (such as email, work, school, home, network)
  • If possible, do not share your password with anybody.
  • Passwords that are shared with others, like for a home network, should only be shared if necessary.
  • Be aware when typing your password in public, or that in no way anyone is watching.
  • Some types of electronic devices like computers and smartphones can remember passwords, so beware of devices that are not yours.
  • Make a schedule of when to change your password. For example, every 180 days.
  • It is not recommended to write down passwords. But if you have to, make sure that it is neither physically nor visually accessible by others.

Automatic Updates are on by default and ensure your Windows 10 system is receiving the most up to date patches.

To make sure Automatic Updates are on, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Start button.
    Windows 10 start button.

    By default it is in the lower left corner of your screen.

  2. Click the Settings button on the left side of the start menu
    Windows 10 settings gear icon.
  3. Click Update and Security.
    Windows 10 update and security icon.
  4. Click Advanced Options.
  5. Make sure Automatic is chosen.
    Windows 10 automatic updates toggle.

Windows Defender will be on by default on machines that do not have third-party antivirus software installed. To check the status of Windows Defender, follow these steps. 

  1. Click the Start button.
    Windows 10 Start Menu
  2. Click the Settings button on the left side of the start menu.
    Windows 10 Settings
  3. Click Update and Security.
    Windows 10 Update and security button
  4. On the left side click Windows Defender.
    Windows 10 control panel window with Windows Defender tab selected
  5. Enable Real-time Protection to turn Windows Defender On.

    Windows Defender cannot be enabled if your machine uses third-party antivirus software.

     

By default, the Windows Firewall is enabled. This will guide you to the settings, and help make sure it's working properly for you.

  1. Select the Start menu.
    Windows 10 Start Menu.
    By default, your Start Menu is in the bottom-left corner of your screen.
  2. Select Settings.
    Start menu with settings highlighted.
  3. Select Update & Security.
    Windows Settings with Update and Security highlighted.
  4. Select Windows Security on the left, then Firewall & network protection on the right.
    Update and Security with Windows Security and Firewall and Network Protection highlighted.
  5. One of the three options, Domain, Private, or Public network, will show as active. Make sure the Active network shows Firewall is on.
    Firewall and network protection with active network highlighted.

With Windows Defender Firewall on, you will sometimes see popup notifications from applications asking for access to your system.
Windows 10 firewall pop up

You should only allow access if you recognize the program. Typically, you'll only see the prompts the first time after installing software or a game.

Click Allow to give the program access.
Windows 10 firewall popup with Allow selected

If you would rather have another option for security there are many 3rd party software suites out there to choose from.

Some of the available suites include:

  • Norton
  • McAfee
  • Sophos
  • Comodo
  • Malwarebytes

Data Backup

Now that we've covered updates and security, let's go over some best practices for backing up your data.

  • First and foremost, it is always wise to backup you data and backups should be performed regularly. Even beyond the scope of malware or security, it is always prudent to have frequent backups because hard drives can fail, systems can crash, things can break, "life can happen", so you're always better off safe than sorry.

  • Data backups, just like any type of backup are a matter of redundancy. One backup solution is good, two or more is better.

  • Offsite backups are always a good idea, especially as a secondary backup. That way if an event happens such as a fire, flood or theft, you have the remote offsite backup to fall back on.

  • It is always prudent to set your backups to use a versioning scheme. That way if files are corrupted, infected or locked, you don't have to worry about having only one backup which may be the bad version.

  • If you are using a local backup such as an external hard drive it is always a good idea to disconnect the drive when it is not in use. The reason being, some forms of malware can encrypt or corrupt all data on all connected drives, so a drive that is not connected will not be affected.

Windows 10 comes with its own backup software.

To begin you'll need an external drive.

  1. Select the Start button, then select Settings.
    Windows 10 start meny with start and the settings gear selected.
  2. Select Update & Security.
    Windows 10 settings page showing update and security highlighted.
  3. Select Backup.
    Windows 10 update and security settings page showing backup highlighted on the left side.
  4. Make sure your external drive is connected and select Add a Drive.
    Windows 10 backup settings page showing add a drive highlighted.
  5. Select your drive from the drop down list.
    Select drive with D highlighted.
    Backups will start automatically, you do not have to make any other changes.
  6. Windows 10 will now make a backup every hour of C:\Users\<your username>.
  7. If you want to change these settings click More Options beneath Add a drive.

Windows 10 is the most secure Windows to date. Remembering a few simple rules can help keep you safe in this digital world.

  • Secure, complicated passwords that you use only once per site or program.
  • Not sharing your passwords, or allowing others to see your password.
  • Enabling Automatic Updates keeps your system secure with frequent updates.
  • Keeping Windows Defender and Windows Defender Firewall on gives you a barrier of security.
  • Third party programs are available if you'd rather use them.
  • Keep an up to date backup using Windows own feature.
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