Your computer can contain some pretty sensitive information. Everything from passwords to online accounts, from contact details and private photos to documents that could contain personal information such as legal letters or financial spreadsheets. We’re sure you can add more to that list. With so much information stored in one place, it’s vital you keep your computer secure, and that means both ensuring other people can’t get at what’s on the internal storage and making sure you don’t get compromised by malware coming at you over the internet.
Microsoft is no stranger to catering for password-protected login, or to providing on board antivirus protection. Windows 8 builds on what has gone before, so let’s talk a look at what’s on offer and how to use it. (See also: Windows 8: the complete guide.)
Windows 8: Secure Boot
Secure Boot might not be the most exciting of security features, but it could help you out a lot. There’s malware that can get itself ready to do its worst as your computer boots up, so in Windows 8 Microsoft has implemented a boot system to make sure everything that’s pre-loading actually has a right to do so, by verifying its security certificates. In theory, nothing should be able to lurk and boot without permission.
Windows 8: Factory Reset and Refresh
If things go completely pear-shaped and you find yourself wishing you could start all over again, Windows 8 offers two ways to do this: Refresh, and Factory Reset.
Refresh reinstalls the operating system, but keeps all your data, settings and any installed Metro apps safe. It will remove any non-metro programs, though. Refresh also helps you with the application reinstall process by making a list of removed apps, so you can easily work through that to get back to a working state.
Alternatively, you can implement a Factory Reset, taking your operating system right back to how it was when you first took it out of the box. That ought to get rid of lurking malware, but it will also remove all applications, personal data and settings – everything, so it needs to be used with great care. With luck you’ll only need factory reset once – when you decide to sell or pass your computer on to a new user.
To use either Refresh or Factory Reset, choose the Settings Charm, then More PC Settings. Now scroll down the left-hand settings options till you get to General and select that. Scroll right down to the bottom of the options on the right-hand side and you’ll find both Refresh and Factory Reset there.
Secure Windows 8 with a password or gestures
Just as with earlier versions of Windows, you can login using a password. What’s different here is that you can use a mouse or your finger to draw a gesture onto an image to do so. This is thought to be more secure than using a password – people generally aren’t very good at choosing secure passwords, but the number of permutations of gestures on a photo are vast, and so much more difficult to second-guess. If you do choose gesture based login, though, make sure that nobody is watching the patterns you create, as they may be able to copy them.
1. To set this up, go to the Settings charm and choose More PC Settings. Next, choose Users from the left-hand PC Settings options, and select Create a Picture Password.
2. Now you’ll need to verify yourself by entering your current password – just to prove you have the authority to create this new login. That done, you are taken to a new screen, which explains how picture passwords work. Read the text, then select Choose picture.
3. Next scroll through the photos you have till you find the one you want to use, and click Open. The next screen lets you move the picture around a little, and when you are happy, you can choose Use this picture. Now comes the important part. Draw three gestures on the picture, they can be any combination of circles, straight lines and taps. Complete the process by repeating the gestures. You have to be quite precise. Now whenever you login, you’ll have to repeat the three gestures. See also: How to upgrade to Windows 8.
Windows Defender is Microsoft’s very own anti-malware client, and it’s been updated in Windows 8 so that it will protect against viruses and spyware, and provide real-time detection. You can scan your computer and any attached devices any time you want, too.