Windows 7 Tips: Best Security Features

Do you understand and use the new security features in Windows 7? From encryption to malware fighters, here's a look at the key Windows 7 tools that keep enterprise and home PCs safe and secure.

By
Mon, February 01, 2010

CIO

For both enterprises and consumers, one of the big draws of Windows 7 has been its tighter security features.

Windows 7 has received mostly positive reviews for how it protects users from viruses and other security threats better than Windows XP or Vista.

[ For complete coverage on Microsoft's (MSFT) new Windows 7 operating system -- including hands-on reviews, video tutorials and advice on enterprise rollouts -- see CIO.com's Windows 7 Bible. ]

In addition to "under the hood" code protection in Windows 7 (like a more fortified kernel), Microsoft has also enhanced security features that IT pros and users can control and use to their advantage. Here are six Windows 7 security features that both consumers and enterprise users should know and use.

Bit Locker To Go

Microsoft added BitLocker internal hard drive encryption in Vista to protect data on stolen laptops. In Windows 7, the feature has been extended to protect external hard drives and USB thumb drives.

Called "BitLocker To Go", the feature, available only in Windows 7 Enterprise and Ultimate editions, allows external storage devices to be restricted with a passphrase set by IT before users have permission to copy data to them.

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This should give enterprises the same confidence in USB external drives that they have in regular hard-drive encryption. And with the growing amount of USB devices being used by enterprises, encrypting them has become a necessity.

Internet Explorer 8 for Safer Browsing

Although you can use Internet Explorer 8 with Windows XP or Vista, the latest version of IE comes loaded on Windows 7 machines.

Despite its recent browser market share dips, IE8 does offer improved security features for both consumers and enteprises.

For consumers, the two standouts are: InPrivate Browsing, where data about your browsing session is not stored and temporary Internet files, Web address history, cookies and passwords are all disabled; and Protected Mode, which protects you from drive-by downloads that can happen just from visiting a Web site.

Some security features in IE8 that IT pros can utilize are: SmartScreen Filter, which uses a red warning screen to prevent you from visiting unsafe sites; and ClickJack Prevention, which allows IT pros to insert a tag that blocks clickjacking, a type of cross-site scripting that uses embedded code to trick users into clicking on a link that appears normal (aka dummy button) but is concealing a hidden malicious link.

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