In the past, protecting a Windows PC from attack by malicious code, including viruses, malware and phishing, meant installing a raft of security applications to combat each threat. Windows 8 has changed all that; in fact, this latest incarnation of the Windows operating is secure right out of the box.
Users of Windows XP will be familiar with the defences of their operating system. Migrating to Windows 8 opens a whole new world of security that has not been possible with earlier versions. What's more, the Independent German security suite evaluators AV-Test.org have rated Windows 8's security features as highly capable and easily a match for existing third-party applications.
This glowing report is mostly due to the evolution of Windows' own built-in security features that are now grouped under Windows Defender, which quietly protects Windows 8 from attack. This is a major evolution of Microsoft Security Essentials, which was originally available on pre-Windows 7 PCs. Windows 8 now has a range of security features including:
- Action Centre
This component of Windows Defender ensures the firewall is switched on and protects against malware attacks.
- Windows SmartScreen
Designed to scan any apps or other programs downloaded to the Windows 8 PC, this element of the security package protects against potential malicious apps.
- User Account Control
Before certain kinds of applications are installed on a Windows 8 PC, User Account Control alerts the user if an application could be harmful if installed.
Secure Boot is also a welcome addition to Windows 8. This utility works with PCs that have the UEFI Secure Boot firmware. As your PC starts up, Secure Boot checks the security certificates of all the applications that usually run when your PC boots – looking for any that malware may have tampered with.
According to Gartner, over 80% of businesses have or are planning to invest in tablet PCs. With Windows RT, enterprise users can be assured that their migration to these devices will be secure, as tablet PCs running Windows RT also use Secure Boot ensuring that each tablet is malware-free.
Users of Windows 8.1 Pro and Windows 8.1 Enterprise editions can also protect their files by using BitLocker Drive Encryption, which can be switched on by following these steps:
- Open BitLocker Drive Encryption by swiping in from the right edge of the screen and tapping Search (or if you're using a mouse, pointing to the upper-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer down, and then clicking Search). Then enter BitLocker in the search box, tap or click Settings, and finally tap or click BitLocker Drive Encryption.
- Tap or click Turn on BitLocker. Administrator permission is required - you might be asked for an admin password or to confirm your choice.
- The BitLocker Drive Encryption setup dialog box opens.
- Follow the instructions.
Migrating to Windows 8 means higher levels of security across all the devices that the operating system is running on. Whether desktop PCs, notebooks or tablets, the new raft of in-built security applications means from the moment these devices are switched on, they are secure from attack.