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Secure your Windows 7 PC or laptop

We look at Windows 7's best security features

Until now, Windows Vista was the most secure version of the Windows operating system. Windows 7 picks up where Vista left off, and improves on that foundation to provide an even more secure computing experience. Here’s a look at some of the more significant security enhancements in Windows 7.

Integrated Fingerprint Scanner Support

Many Windows users configure the operating system to log them in without a user name and password—but that’s the computer equivalent of leaving the front door of your house wide open with a neon sign flashing “Enter Here.” I highly recommend that you assign all user accounts in Windows 7 a relatively strong password or passphrase (that means your dog’s name or your favorite basketball team don’t count).

Even passwords aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Passwords are secure only until they’re cracked, and cracking a password is more a matter of when than if, assuming an attacker is sufficiently dedicated. Experts recommend two-factor authentications - in other words, adding another layer of protection on top of the password - for better security. Many computers, laptops in particular, come equipped with built-in biometric security in the form of a fingerprint scanner. With Windows 7, Microsoft provides much smoother integration between the operat­ing system and the fingerprint-scanning hardware.

windows 7 fingerprint scanner

Windows 7 has better driver support and more reliable fingerprint reading across different hardware platforms. Configuring and using a fingerprint reader with Windows 7 for logging in to the operating system, as well as for authenticating users for other applications and websites, is easy. Click on Biometric Devices in the Control Panel to access the console for enrolling and managing fingerprint data and customising biometric-security settings.

The Biometric Devices console will display any detected biometric devices. If the fingerprint reader is not yet con­figured, the status will display 'Not Enrolled'. Click on that status to access the console.

You can add scans of one finger or all ten. Adding multi­ple fingers allows you to continue using the biometric security even if your primary finger is in a bandage, for instance, or if your hand is in a cast. On screen, select the finger you want to add, and then place your finger on the fingerprint reader (or slowly drag your finger across the reader, depending on the type of hardware you have). You will have to scan each finger successfully at least three times to register it in the database, similar to how you have to reenter a password to confirm that you entered it correctly.


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