Windows 8 has a plethora of security features built in, including family safety settings, antivirus protection, a phishing filter, as well as data and device security. Windows 8 also takes advantage of new hardware to improve security as soon as the computer boots up, UEFI or Unified Extensible Firmware Interface. UEIF is a boot up system that has a feature called Secure Boot that helps prevent malware and unauthorized operating systems from starting when the computer boots up.
Windows 8 has a set of Family Safety tools that helps keep your family safe from internet threats. Features of these tools include web content filtering, activity reporting, time limits, and game and app restrictions. These features allow parents to see and restrict what their children are getting into on the internet. Grant access to specific sites a child has requested access to if appropriate, and limit the amount of time a child can use the computer. Game restrictions can be set based on game ratings and apps can be restricted on a per app basis.
Free antivirus and phishing filters are included with Windows 8. Windows Defender, which replaces Security Essentials, runs in the background providing real-time protection for your PC. Windows Smart Screen is a new feature that is designed to protect users from phishing scams and malware like spyware and viruses that anti-malware software might not be able to detect yet. Just because Windows 8 comes with these security applications out of the box, it doesn’t mean that your investment in 3rd party antivirus is wasted. Installing third party Antivirus software just disabled Windows Defender and takes its place without any conflict or disruption to the system.
The last security feature I will touch on in this article is Windows BitLocker Drive Encryption. In the past, this feature was only available on Enterprise or Ultimate editions of Windows. Now it is available on Pro as well as Enterprise. Turning on BitLocker encrypts your entire hard drive, and any file you save on your computer is automatically encrypted. You can also use BitLocker To Go to secure removable drives like USB flash drives. The encrypted drive can be opened on other computers using methods such as a PIN number to unlock the files. BitLocker is a must on portable devices like laptops and tablets running Windows 8 Pro, because it encrypts all of your data protecting it if the device is lost or stolen.
Windows 8 has stuffed a lot of really great features into a small space while still playing nice with the cloud and other 3rd party security applications. Microsoft has made great strides in trying to provide an operating system that is secure and has the tools to stay secure right out of the box, though you may still want to consider 3rd party antivirus just in case.