Do I need extra security software for Windows 10?
Windows 10 comes with built-in anti-virus in the form of Windows Defender and new options such as Windows Hello face recognition but is that enough? Here's what's on offer and how to decide if you need more security.
What is Windows Defender?
Microsoft's own anti-malware software is called Windows Defender. It's built into Windows 8, and will continue as part of Windows 10 as well, offering a basic level of protection against malware, spyware and other unwanted programs.
What is Windows Hello?
Windows Hello is Microsoft's all encompassing term for a range of biometric sign-in measures intended to keep Windows 10 PCs entirely secure while making it relatively trivial to authenticate yourself on your own PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone.
Windows Hello uses either your fingerprint, face recognition or iris recognition to authenticate you, depending on the hardware present in the Windows 10 device you're trying to sign into. Right now, not too many PCs have the infrared cameras needed to work with Windows Hello's iris or facial recognition features, but they're expected to become more common after Windows 10 launches. Existing fingerprint scanners should be able to take advantage of Windows Hello for seamless login as soon as Windows 10 launches.
What is Windows SmartScreen?
Windows SmartScreen is a technology originally implemented in Internet Explorer. IE is history as far as most versions of Windows 10 are concerned, replaced with the much more agile Microsoft Edge browser, but SmartScreen lives on in Windows 10 itself. It runs in the background, checking both web pages and applications as they're downloaded. As you access sites or run applications, SmartScreen checks each application to assess whether it's a known or unknown entity, and especially if it's known to contain potentially malicious components. If an app is likely to be malicious, by default it will be blocked from running.
How does Windows 10 help me protect kids and other family members?
Windows 10 includes family sharing options that allow you to set up either local accounts for members of your family, or bring their existing Microsoft (Hotmail/Outlook.com) accounts under your wing. As a provisioned adult you'll get access to reports on your kid's internet usage, as well as limit their online access time or access to specific applications or web sites.
How do I set up Windows Family Sharing?
Microsoft's vision for Windows 10 is that it's a single ecosystem encompassing multiple devices. As such, control of family sharing is managed online via the controls at account.microsoft.com/family https://account.microsoft.com/family/about, where you add each individual child account. From then on, the rules you set in the cloud apply to each and every device your child signs into, so if, for example, you limit them to a set amount of online time per day, they can't skip around that by switching devices. Likewise, if there's online content you'd rather shield them from, you can either block sites by category, or prepare a whitelist of sites you're happy for them to visit.
So do I need other security software?
Windows Defender and Microsoft SmartScreen are better than nothing, because the threat landscape is an ever evolving matter, but that's not quite the same thing as saying that they're all you need. Most independent assessments of antivirus/anti-malware security packages tends to find that Windows Defender's overall protection is quite minimal. Unless your system is never online, you're best off installing additional security software; even one of the "free" AV packages from vendors such as AVG will offer a boost from Windows Defender's basic protection.
Which security software providers will be offering Windows 10 versions?
It's a given that all of the major security software providers will have application suites that work with Windows 10, although the exact timing of when they'll have fully compatible products varies.
Symantec has indicated that it will make a free update to existing Norton customers that will include Windows 10 compatibility "in the next few weeks", and adds that despite Windows 10 insisting that the existing version isn't compatible, that you're still "protected" by the application.
McAfee is developing support for Windows 10, although it appears that full software support won't be implemented for around a month after Windows 10 launches.
The current version of Eset's Windows 10 security suite is still in beta, but is claimed to be "fully compatible" with Windows 10.
AVG says its current version of AVG Internet Security (2015) is already fully Windows 10 compatible as long as it's properly updated.
While Kaspersky does have plans to offer Windows 10 compatible versions of its security suites, at the time of writing its applications appear to be broadly incompatible.
BitDefender's antivirus products appear to be ready for Windows 10 via an update.
Sophos has flagged that it will have Windows 10 support, but not when it'll become available at the time of writing.