Windows 10 Creators Update

Windows 10 Creators Update (Version 1703) is now available for download. It is the third major update to Windows 10 since its release in July 2015. Information regarding upgrading to Version 1703 can be found on the Microsoft website.

Creators Update brings many new features and changes to Windows 10.

Privacy

Windows 10 Creators Update introduces more transparency regarding your privacy. After the upgrade, you will be prompted to change settings regarding your privacy. Each item has an explanation of what is involved if you turn a specific item on or off.

Windows Defender

Windows Defender has received a new Dashboard, the ‘Windows Defender Security Centre’. This dashboard allows you to see whether your Third-Party Antivirus & Firewall are working correctly, as well as drive performance & health report, and tools to set app & browser controls. These are all options included to help keep your Windows devices secure. Parental controls are also included on the Defender Dashboard.

Night Light

Night Light is a ‘night mode’ which allows users to adjust blue light displayed on the screen. This gives the screen an orange tinge, but limits the amount of blue light, which can affect our sleeping patterns.

Changes to Windows Updates

Occasionally Windows will prompt a user to install updates while they are using the machine. Windows has also been known to reboot while the user is working, and forcing the user to wait while the updates are installed. This can be a minor annoyance. This would cause users of older version of Windows to turn off Windows Update completely.  Windows 10 Creators Update allows users to adjust the settings for Windows Update allowing a more flexible update schedule.

Microsoft Edge

Microsoft have made changes to browser tabs including an option to hide browser tabs without closing them to make it easier to navigate tabs you have open.

Edge also introduces features to read eBooks you can purchase from the Windows Store.

More extensions are available to allow you to customize the browser as you would with Chrome or Firefox.

The address bar appears to have had a revamp, making it easier to see website address as well as selecting a URL that you may want to copy to another location.

Microsoft Paint

Microsoft Paint has been around since Windows 1.0, when it was known as Paintbrush. It has evolved over the years, allowing many a kid to create masterpieces.  With the Creators Update, a new app, Paint 3D is included. It works like paint but allows the user to create 3D masterpieces.

Game Mode

Game Mode gets an upgrade, allowing users to stream games via Beam. Game streaming has become quite popular, and this feature allows a user to stream the game they are playing for friends or for a wider audience on the internet.

Conclusion

People are often put off updating in fear that things will break or not work as expected. Windows Insider Program release ‘Preview’ builds which allow for testing on many different platforms and does eliminate many of the problems that might affect the home user. But this doesn’t mean everything will work 100%. Often third party programs need to be updated to be 100% compatible. Many times faults are caused by older software.

New versions of Windows have security in mind and this is a very important reason to update. Updated versions of Windows also include many new features to improve your experience when using the device. Before updating ensure you have a backup of all important files. If the upgrade fails for whatever reason, a backup may be your only hope of restoring your machine to a workable state.

I look forward to hearing your feedback regarding Windows 10 Creators Update.

Windows Updates April 2017

The second Tuesday for April 2017 has arrived, meaning it’s ‘Patch Tuesday’ and time to install this months Windows Updates.

This months patch Tuesday also marks the release of ‘Creators Update’ for Windows 10. It is the third major update to Windows 10 since its release in July 2015.

It also marks the end of support for Windows Vista. Those still running Vista should consider an upgrade to a modern and secure operating system as soon as possible.

This months patches vulnerabilities in a range of Microsoft Products including: Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office, Visual Studio, .NET Framework, Silverlight, and also includes updates for Adobe Flash Player.

Updates should install automatically, but I recommend manually checking to ensure you stay secure. Steps to check for Windows Updates can be found below.

Installing Updates

  1. On your keyboard, hold the windows key and press R. This will display the run dialog box.
  2. Type in “control update” and press enter
    windows-updates-march-2017
  3. Click “Check for Updates”. This may take some time as Windows Update searches for the latest patches.
  4. Click on Install Updates, update will install, after which Windows will need to restart.

Staying secure on public WiFi

In this modern world, we strive on always being connected. This means, when running low on data, we will often connect to public WiFi to allow us to stay connected with family and friends. Public WiFi may not always be safe. These tips will help you in staying secure when using public WiFi.

If it is at all possible, the safest option is to increase your data on your mobile phone plan, and use this as a portable hotspot. Another option would be to purchase a portable hotspot that you use rather than public WiFi. This way you are always connected to your own trusted network.

Before connecting a device to public WiFi, always ensure the integrity of the connection. Ask a member of staff, such as reception at a Motel, or wait staff at a coffee shop or restaurant for the correct SSID. The SSID is the name of the wireless network. There will often be many WiFi networks available. It would make sense that the SSID would match the business name, but this is not always the case. A malicious actor may also be running a wireless network, possibly with a similar name. This network could be designed to snoop on traffic being sent and received and to harvest user’s information and credentials.

A coffee shop offering free WiFi might name their network “CoffeeShop”. A malicious actor may have set up a malicious WiFi access point called “CoffeeShopFreeWIFI”. It is impossible to tell the correct network without first asking.

Your device will connect to previously connected WiFi automatically. This can be dangerous. You may inadvertently connect to public WiFi, and not take any precautions such as checking for HTTPS or using a VPN. It is a good idea to “forget” a network once you have finished using it and reconnect manually the next time you need it.

When using public WiFi, ensure all websites are using HTTPS. HTTPS is the secure form of HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol). HTTPS is used to secure information between your device and the webserver. This allows you to securely log into a website, as your credentials are sent encrypted to the server. HTTPS is also important when entering credit card details. HTTPS also stops anyone trying to intercept traffic from seeing the pages you are viewing. This doesn’t make you anonymous. Internet Service Providers and the Webhost may be able to see websites you visit and information about your device. HTTPS makes it harder for anyone to intercept any data you send or receive to the server.

HTTP is sent in plain text. Meaning anyone else on the network can potentially view data coming from your device to the website. This information could be credit cards, passwords, and the pages you a visiting. This leaves you open to having your online accounts breached, sensitive information leaked, or credit card details stolen.

Your email password and contents of the email can also be leaked when using public WiFi. Ensure your email service uses SSL/TLS. Your service provider can assist with these settings. Services such as Hotmail and Gmail are encrypted to protect your data. Service provider emails, such as Bigpond or Westnet have not always been encrypted. You could still be connecting to your service provider email unencrypted.

HTTPS Everywhere is a browser plugin that forces HTTPS site wide when available. It is free and I recommend everyone install it whether you are using public WiFi or not. It is available for most desktop web browsers. Mobile device users may like to check out Brave, and alternative web browser with a tool like HTTPS Everywhere built in.

HTTPS Everywhere can also be configure to block HTTP connections. This would mean you cannot connect to a website that doesn’t offer HTTPS. Which might be impractical for some users.

If you are connecting to public WiFI, or work away from your trusted network regularly, I highly recommend purchasing a VPN. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) creates an encrypted tunnel from your device to the VPN server. Connections to HTTP websites, that would be easily intercepted by an attacker on a WiFI network are now sent via the encrypted tunnel. This stops anyone from intercepting data on WiFi. HTTP data from the VPN to the webserver would not be encrypted and once it leaves the VPN server. Anyone upstream could possible intercept this data, but the malicious actor in the coffee shop would not see this data.

Free VPNs should be avoided, as these could be as malicious as someone trying to intercept your data over WiFI.

There are many VPN services available. It is good to look around and see what services are being offered. I have heard good reviews in regards to F-Secure Freedome and ProXPN.

Whether you are using public WiFi or connected to your trusted network at home be sure to check out some free tools to keep your PC secure. Also check out some more tips on how to stay secure online.

 

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