How to Disable this Controversial Windows 10 Wi-Fi Feature

posted 8/3/2015 in General

Last week Microsoft released their new operating system Windows 10 as a free upgrade for all Windows 7 and Windows 8 users. While users hurried to upgrade to the new OS, many were unaware of a certain default feature that may be giving hackers access to your system.

So What’s the New Feature?
Now included in Microsoft’s new Windows 10 is Wi-Fi Sense, a new feature that allows you to automatically log your friends and family onto your Wi-Fi network without them having to type in a password. Microsoft enables this by default when you upgrade to Windows 10, but it doesn’t automatically share your networks. When you log on to a network, a box pops up saying “Share network with my contacts” that you can check to automatically share your Wi-Fi with your contacts when they enter your home. Wi-Fi Sense does not share your actual password but rather an encrypted version of your password that is stored on Microsoft’s servers.

After choosing to share your network, all of your Skype contacts, Outlook contacts, and Facebook friends will have access to log in to your Wi-Fi network automatically when their devices using Windows 10 are within range. Other devices, such as iPhones, Androids, and Mac computers will still have to login manually with your password.

Why Does This Pose a Threat?
With Microsoft’s Wi-Fi sense, it’s either all or nothing. Wi-Fi Sense currently only offers the ability to share your Wi-Fi with all your contacts or none of your contacts; you don’t get to pick and choose which friends have access. This makes it important to only have contacts and Facebook friends that you trust to have access to your home’s network if you choose to enable it. Granting your network access to the wrong person can open you up to potential security threats such as the user hacking into your other devices and taking sensitive information off those devices such as emails, photos, and addresses of family members. However, according to Microsoft, users will be able to turn off the Network Discovery feature that will restrict access to other devices on the Wi-Fi network.

How Can I Turn it Off?
You can avoid making your home wireless network available for Wi-Fi Sense altogether by adding “_optout” to the end of your Wi-Fi name. So the network “MyLSB” would be available, but the network “MyLSB_optout” wouldn’t be available to share through Wi-Fi Sense. Also, you can go into Windows 10 Settings, go to Network & Internet, Wi-Fi, and Manage Wi-Fi Settings. Then just turn everything off under the Wi-Fi Sense heading and no longer worry about sharing your network with any unwanted users.

Overall, most of the panic and concerns about Wi-Fi Sense have been overblown. Since it’s limited only to Windows 10 users and it is fairly easy to turn off and to choose who has access, Wi-Fi Sense is nothing to worry about for the average user. However, since it’s better to be safe than sorry, Lincoln Savings Bank feels it’s important to educate our customers on the different threats out there that may put you at risk.

Lincoln Savings Bank, Member FDIC.

Goldman, David. "Why Windows 10 WiFi Sense Is Freaking Everyone out." CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 30 July 2015. Web. 31 July 2015.

Krebs, Brian. "Krebs on Security." Krebs on Security RSS. KrebsonSecurity, 15 July 2015. Web. 31 July 2015.

Weinberger, Matt. "How to Turn off Windows 10's Controversial Wi-Fi Sharing Feature." Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 29 July 2015. Web. 31 July 2015.
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