Your PC’s password isn’t something you should give out to just anyone. It’s like having the keys to the kingdom. From work to social media to banking, your Windows computer is probably the hub of your life. So, Microsoft is pleading with us not to be idiots and give our passwords to anyone who asks. But they know that some of us will, so they’ve just released some powerful new features to keep us from hurting ourselves.
How thieves get your computer’s password
The problem is phishing, which is when you try to trick someone into giving you their personal digital information, like their PC password. Scammers are getting very good at getting this information from people who don’t know they’re being scammed. They’ve moved past the old tricks that seem silly and obvious now. One way to do this is to make fake websites that look exactly like the ones you’re trying to log into.
How bad actors steal your PC’s password
Even if you catch the scam in time and don’t click the “log in” button, hackers can sometimes get your password just by seeing you type it in. Even though that’s never a good thing, it’s even worse if you use the same password for Facebook and your computer. Bad people now know how to get into your computer. Unsafe storage of passwords is another problem. If you keep all of your passwords in a standard Word or Excel file, for example, you leave yourself open to data theft. You should only store your passwords in places that require a password and are encrypted. You should never write them down on a piece of paper that anyone can read.
Even though the risk to individuals is high, so is the risk to companies and networks. Hackers have broken into large institutions because their passwords were either weak or leaked. Access to just one user’s computer is sometimes all it takes to cause a security meltdown.
How Microsoft helps keep your Windows password safe
With the big Windows 11 2022 update from last week, Microsoft has given you new tools to protect your PC from password theft. The first is an alert that shows up when you use your Windows login password on another website. The goal is to make you less likely to use the password for your PC for any other service. If the site you’re “logging into” is actually a phishing site, hackers now know your PC’s password.
How Microsoft is helping to protect your Windows password
However, a password leak can happen even on a legitimate site. If you choose the second option, you’ll get a warning whenever you enter your password into a program that shouldn’t store it. Microsoft wants you to use a real password manager instead of keeping your passwords in apps like Word or Notepad, which don’t offer as much security.
How to set up Microsoft’s new security protocols for passwords
For some reason, these options for password protection are not turned on by default, and they are buried deep in Settings. For them to work, you’ll need to use your Windows password instead of Windows Hello to log into your computer. They won’t work if you sign into your computer with a PIN, so you’ll need to turn that off first. (Click “Remove” next to the Windows Hello method you want to turn off in Start > Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options.)
How to enable Microsoft’s new password protection protocols
Next, go to the Start menu > Settings > Privacy & Security > Windows Security > App & Browser Control > Reputation-based protection settings. Check your protection against phishing, which should already be set to “On.” The other options you should pay attention to are “Warn me if I reuse a password” and “Warn me if I store my password in an unsafe way.” If you turn both on, you’ll get a warning whenever you put your password into a dangerous app.
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