5 Windows 10 Privacy Settings Traders Must Not Overlook

Close-up of red door with PRIVATE sign above mail slot

As I mentioned in a recent post, now is a good time to upgrade to Windows 10 if you haven’t already. Whether you’re upgrading to Windows 10, getting a new trading computer soon, or just never bothered much with your settings, it’s important to understand how to protect your privacy on Windows 10. The main thing is, you don’t want to leave the default settings in place.

In general, Microsoft Windows 10 is a secure operating system. So, for traders, Windows 10 is a great choice. But, at the same time, you should be careful about what information Microsoft and individual apps are collecting from your trading computer.

Fortunately, Microsoft gives you control over what information is collected. But the average user never takes a look at their Windows 10 privacy settings. That’s definitely not a best practice for traders.

Any computer you are using for trading is going to contain sensitive data. At a minimum, check the list of privacy-related settings below as soon as you upgrade to Windows 10 or set up a new trading computer. Or do it now, if you just never got around to doing it.

If you’re a trader, here are the top 5 privacy settings you mustn’t overlook.

Location Tracking

Nowadays, location tracking is common in all operating systems, whether it is for mobile or desktop devices. But traveling traders especially might have reason to object to Microsoft knowing the location of their laptop trading computer.

If you don’t want your location to be tracked, you can follow the steps below:

  • From the Search Bar, search for Location Privacy Settings.
  • In this settings window, look for Allow access to location on this device.
  • Find the Change button and turn off the feature.

Turning off this feature will block all apps from accessing your location. But if you want particular apps to have location access (like, say, the Weather app), leave the general location feature on, but then (at the bottom of the Location Privacy Settings window), turn off access for all but the desired apps.

You may want to set a default location (by entering an address or dragging a map marker) to show Windows where you normally are.

App Permissions

When you install an app, it asks for certain permissions. These permissions allow the app to access multiple features on your computer, such as emails, contacts, microphones, or cameras.

To change these permissions:

  • From the Search Bar, search for Privacy Settings.
  • In the left sidebar, choose the feature you want to control (camera, microphone, contacts, etc.).
  • As with the location settings, you can choose to turn off the feature for all apps, or specify which ones can access the feature.

I tend to err on the side of more restrictions. Then I add them back later if it becomes obvious that a specific app needs more access.

This is especially true for camera and microphone access. Probably no one is spying on you, but blocking app access through these settings just gives greater peace of mind.

Diagnostics and Feedback

Microsoft collects diagnostics data from your trading computer to improve the operating system. The data is anonymized. So, the information can’t be directly linked to you. But you might still want to control the data flow.

Unfortunately, you can’t fully prevent Microsoft from collecting data. But you have the option to limit how much information is collected.

Under Settings > Privacy > Diagnostics & feedback, select the Basic option to minimize the amount of information that is sent to Microsoft.

You may want to periodically take advantage of this window’s Delete diagnostic data option to clear out older diagnostics data. This section of the window offers a link to your online Microsoft privacy dashboard from which you can view and delete browsing information.

Cortana

I’ve never recommended Microsoft’s virtual assistant Cortana for use on trading computers. I just don’t like the idea of something always listening. And I usually have my cell phone handy anyhow if I really need voice assistance.

But Windows 10 still comes with Cortana turned on. This isn’t good. It might be collecting information in the background.

What’s worse, you can’t just toggle a switch to turn Cortana off; you have to edit the registry. And that’s not something the typical trader should be dabbling with.

Even if you can’t get rid of the virtual assistant, you can block Cortana from collecting and sharing information. From the Search Bar, search for Cortana permissions. Turn off everything you can find. You’ll have to drill down into the links in this window to get to all the settings.

At least the 1903 Windows 10 update (of Spring 2019) disconnected Cortana from the Search Bar. So you can remove the Cortana icon from the Task Bar and eliminate the possibility of accidentally launching Cortana.

Ad Tracking

Microsoft collects information when you make any purchase through the Microsoft store. The data is used to serve customized ads. If you don’t care to received customized ads (and share information about your buying habits), you can turn off the ad tracking capability.

The switch for this is under Settings > Privacy > General. Toggle off the option for Let apps use advertising ID to make ads more interesting to you based on your app activity.

Final Word

Microsoft and other software providers like to think they’re making life easier for us, but that ease comes at a price. Particularly with regard to your trading computer, it’s important to value privacy over any other consideration.

For traders like us, the data on our trading computers is the lifeblood of our businesses. So investing time to protect the privacy of that data is worth it.

There are more trading computer tips like this in our buyer’s guide. Check out our “How To Buy a Trading Computer” e-book.
Remember, we are here to help with all your technology-related questions. If you’re confused about how to upgrade your computer or have other hardware questions, give us 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.

Photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash.