As traders, we’re always concerned about the security of the information on our trading computers. If you are using Windows 10, there are a lot of security-related options in the privacy settings.
The default settings from Microsoft are not privacy-friendly. So it’s a good practice to be aware of the available settings to safeguard your Windows 10 trading computer.
In this post, we’ll do a high-level walk-through of the main settings. I’ll share some tips and best practices. For a more in-depth understanding of a particular option, take a look at the Windows 10 privacy documentation.
To find these settings on your trading computer, click the windows icon (lower left of screen), then the gear icon (for Settings), then Privacy.
Under the General category, you can toggle permissions for advertising ID, language access, app tracking, and content suggestions. When any of these options is turned on, Windows 10 will collect information from your trading computer to customize various results it shows you.
Speech, Inking, & Typing Settings
Turning on these services gives Cortana, Microsoft’s voice assistant, access to the text you type or your voice input.
Diagnostics & Feedback Settings
You’ll notice whenever there’s a crash, your trading computer asks you to provide information to Microsoft. You have a choice between Basic and Full options. The Full option sends your browsing information to be diagnosed. Stick to the Basic option to minimize how much information Microsoft has about your activities.
Another trader-relevant toggle in this section lets you prevent inking and typing data from being sent to Microsoft.
You may want to come back to this section periodically and click to delete all diagnostic data that has been sent to Microsoft from your trading computer.
Activity History Settings
In this section, you can give permission for Windows 10 to collect information about your activities on your trading computer, and then sync them to the cloud.
Cloud-synced information makes it convenient to work across multiple trading computers or devices. But it also increases your risk of getting hacked.
If Windows has been collecting your activities, you may want to come here periodically to clear the activity history.
You can turn off location tracking for all apps or you can turn it off for particular apps. Also, Cortana has a separate setting for location permissions. So you have to turn it off separately from your device’s local settings.
You can selectively let individual apps access your camera. You can also turn it off for all apps.
You can turn off microphones for the whole device or for particular apps.
There is a lot of concern regarding microphones recording without consent. It’s an issue that is plaguing the voice assistant industry.
If you’re using your microphone for communication apps like Skype, be sure to ‘Allow apps to access your microphone.’ But then toggle off permission for all the individual Microsoft apps.
You can decide to give apps access to your notifications. It’s a convenient way to get alerted when you receive emails or messages. But it’s also distracting. You can implement fine-grained controls in Settings > System > Notifications & Actions.
Account Info Settings
This section lets you allow apps to access your account info, such as your name and photo. You can give permission both globally and for specific apps.
Here you can set permission for apps to access information about your contacts. While you might want Hotmail to access your contact list, you probably aren’t even using the other apps in this section. If you aren’t using them (like Cortana and Messaging) just toggle off your permission.
You can set access for apps to access your calendar settings. Here’s another place you may want to deny permission to Cortana.
Call History Settings
You might want to set global permission for apps to access your call history if you use Skype or make other calls from your computer. But does Cortana need to know about it?
If you use Hotmail, it’s convenient to allow the ‘Mail and Calendar’ app to access your email so you can launch Hotmail from Window’s built-in mail app. Beyond that, make sure you trust the apps that can gain access to your emails.
This section lets you set permissions for tasks. You may not have any apps looking for this permission. Mail and Calendar do use this permission, but you can’t revoke it.
If an app needs access to SMS or text messaging, this is the setting to check.
This setting is for Bluetooth access. You won’t be able to connect Bluetooth devices to your computer if you turn this off.
Other Devices Settings
This setting is for connecting to unpaired devices like beacons. It’s considered bad security practice to connect to such devices. So turn this option off.
Background Apps Settings
This option lets apps run in the background when you are not using them. It’s a good idea to turn most of these off, so you always know which apps are sending and receiving information. Also, you’ll be saving power.
App Diagnostics Settings
Turning this option On will allow diagnostic apps to access information from other apps. For trading computers that deal with sensitive information, keep this option turned off.
Automatic File Downloads Settings
Turn this option on to allow applications to automatically download files. You can selectively give access to certain apps. For example, if you are using Dropbox, you can give it access to download files.
Documents, Pictures, Videos Settings
You can choose to allow access to your documents, pictures, and videos. Each has a separate control option. If you aren’t using an app, you may as well revoke permission.
File System Settings
For apps that deal with files and folders, you’ll have to give access here to let them function properly. However, if an app asks for this permission and it doesn’t have anything to do with the file system (i.e., documents, pictures, videos, local OneDrive files), it might be a rogue program.
I hope the above short guide gives you a better understanding of the available privacy settings in Windows 10.
Schedule some time soon to look at your privacy settings. I’ll bet you’ll be surprised at just how much permission you’re giving away needlessly. These are easy fixes and well worth your time to keep your trading business safe.
Remember, we are here to help with all your technology-related questions. If you think of additional questions about computer hardware or other questions, give me a call. My team and I are here to help. We’re happy to answer any of your questions about trading computers via phone: 800-387-5250.