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What You Need to Know about Windows 10 Privacy Settings

The Microsoft Windows 10® upgrade introduced many new fun and exciting features and capabilities, and these new features introduced new security items to consider.*
*This article makes no recommendations, only suggestions; it is intended to help readers become aware of the privacy settings present with Windows 10.

Windows 10 tracks, stores, and uses a considerable amount of personal information by default.  Much of the information collected is useful and makes for a great user experience. However, in the business world, some information may be better kept private. Microsoft allows the user to control most settings easily and provides methods to control all settings, if necessary.

These controls are appropriately located under the “Settings” option; launch “Settings” and then select “Privacy” to find a listing of items that have privacy controls settings.

W10Settings

W10Privacy

It is important to be aware of what is enabled by default. While the HIPAA security rule does not specify operating system requirements1, and there have been no guidelines published by a regulatory agency, it is prudent to know about privacy settings and how they can be controlled. Below are two important examples:

Speech, Inking, & Typing

This is also the setting for Cortana, which is not revealed until selected.  This feature collects considerable data and may be a setting to consider turning off depending on the use of the computer and what data is stored on the machine.

W10Cortana

Feedback & Diagnostics

This sends error information back to Microsoft.  The default “Full” setting can also send samples of what the user may have been working on, such as an excerpt from an email or office document.  Setting this option to “Basic” limits the feedback to diagnostic error information only.2

W10Feedback

Other settings may be preferable to leave on.  Some would need to be on for other applications to function as expected, but it is good that Microsoft has allowed users to choose what to leave enabled.

Windows 10 is the current operating system offered by Microsoft and is an improvement over Windows 8 and 8.1.  Windows 7 is now in the extended support phase of life, so it is time to think about migration.  Microsoft has offered free migration from Windows 7 and higher, but that offer ends July 29, 2016.

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  1. http://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/faq/2014/does-the-security-rule-mandate-minimum-operating-system-requirements/index.html
  1. http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-10/feedback-diagnostics-privacy-faq

Microsoft and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.

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