Chapter 9: Security and parental features

Windows Defender

Windows Defender is built into Windows 8 and it can be used for protection against viruses, spyware and other malicious software. It works in the background in real-time and can check any programs that you download from the Web for viruses before you launch them. Alternatively, you can choose to install a third-party anti-virus suite for protection.

ScreenSmart

For added security when installing applications, Microsoft has added a feature called Windows SmartScreen. Whenever you try to install a program from an unverified publisher, a full-width alert will pop up asking if that's what you really want to do. This feature is in addition to the warning that you get from the User Account Control, which means that when you're installing a program from an unverified source, you'll be asked twice if you really want to install it.

Family Safety

Content control is integrated in Windows 8 in the form of a feature called Family Safety. This includes built-in features that can restrict the activities of childrens' accounts. For example, when you create accounts for your kids, enabling Family Safety will allow you to block the majority of child-unfriendly sites, as well as limit the applications and file types that can be accessed on the local computer. Kids won't be able to watch videos, search engines will be off limits and popular social networking and media sharing sites will also be blocked.

When a child tries to access any unauthorised content, a message will pop up asking if there is a parent around to authorise them to view that content. The administrator account can view the history of activities that any child accounts have tried to perform, including listing visited Web sites, as well as blocked sites, apps that were run, files that were downloaded and games that were played. A weekly report can also be emailed.

Family Safety can be used to effectively block content depending on the user account. It's a good way to protect kids from questionable content. In this screenshot, you can see that online videos have been pixelated so that their thumbnails are not viewable.
Family Safety can be used to effectively block content depending on the user account. It's a good way to protect kids from questionable content. In this screenshot, you can see that online videos have been pixelated so that their thumbnails are not viewable.

Likewise, Web sites and Google searches can be blocked.
Likewise, Web sites and Google searches can be blocked.

File History

For data security that is easy to implement, there is a feature called File History. It allows you to save up-to-date versions of your files to external hard drives or USB sticks automatically (when those drives are plugged in of course). Files that can be backed up using File History are ones that are located in your libraries, the Desktop, contacts, Favourites and SkyDrive. Files located in other areas will need to be added to a library or to a folder that is in a another monitored location, such as the Desktop.

As an example of how it works, any files or folders that you place in any of those monitored locations will be automatically copied to the external drive you specify. Files are stored in an unencrypted folder that's simply called FileHistory on the removable drive. It's easy to restore files simply by going to the File History setting in Control Panel and clicking on Restore Personal Files, which will then bring up a window from which you can access all your backed up files. You can choose which files to replace in a similar way to the file copy operation — that is, you can compare thumbnails, dates and file sizes before copying the files.

File History can be used to keep incremental backups of your files on an external drive, USB stick or network location.
File History can be used to keep incremental backups of your files on an external drive, USB stick or network location.

BitLocker

If you want more robust security for your files, then you can make use of the BitLocker feature, which can encrypt your data. This feature works best when the tablet or notebook has a built-in Trusted Platform Module chip and it's designed mainly for business users who want to make sure their data is secure if their laptop ever gets lost. It's available in the Windows 8 Professional version, not the standard Windows 8 version.

Proudly sponsored by Trend Micro

Previous chapter: What are Windows 8 apps and where do I get them?

Next chapter: Backing up and restoring a Windows 8 computer

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Elias Plastiras

Elias Plastiras

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