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Windows 10S: The Secure Mode for Businesses

Windows 10S: The Secure Mode for Businesses

Regarding business security, computers need special attention. Sensitive data passes through them, and they’re critical for doing business. Keeping the company machines security can create a headache. From choosing an antivirus to finding the right configurations, security is time-consuming and labyrinthine. However, many company IT departments are unaware that Windows provides many tools to help professionals secure their devices. Meet Windows 10S. It’s a security mode which locks down the Windows 10 ecosystem to create a solid groundwork for security.

Windows 10S is one of the most notable updates to the operating system in the past four years, especially for businesses. Read on to discover exactly what Windows 10S entails and why every organization should consider updating their Windows-based machines to 10S.

Introducing Windows 10S

Windows 10S is Windows 10 – in S mode. Released in 2017, this mode emphasizes Microsoft-verified security configurations to create a sealed layer of protection across the entire operating system. Although the S officially stands for security, Microsoft also notes that S mode is streamlined for speed and safe browsing.

When used properly, S mode increases machine performance and helps keep everything safe.

S mode is different from safe mode, a standard feature of every Windows operating system. Specifically, unlike safe mode, users can do everything in S mode that they’re able to do in the “regular” Windows 10. It also differs in its availability. According to Microsoft’s FAQ, S mode only exists for certain qualifying devices. However, every device running Windows 10 version 1803 or later has S mode enabled.

How to Check a Windows 10 Version

Checking to see if a Windows 10 device runs version 1803 or later is easy. Follow these steps.

  1. Press Start (the Windows logo in the bottom left corner).
  2. Select Settings (the gear symbol on the left vertical menu).
  3. Choose System (often found in the upper left-hand corner).
  4. Select About (at the bottom of the System navigation panel).
  5. Scroll down to Windows Specifications to find the version.

Any number between 1803 and 1903 – the current version as of 2019 – has the option to enable S mode if the correct license agreement was purchased. Read on to determine if this option is appropriate for the machine.

The Next Level Security of Windows 10S

Windows 10S is a viable option for businesses or other organizations which need increased security but aren’t sure what third-party options are most appropriate. Windows 10S locks down the operating system of the device by blocking third-party software and making it more difficult to access system files.

With Windows 10S, users enjoy a stripped-down version of Windows 10 which operates with a whitelist orientation towards software. This makes it dramatically harder for rogue software to install itself, or viruses to move through the operating system files.

For computers in many environments, such as school computers or corporate offices, that’s great. However, there are a few things to be aware of with Windows 10S:

  • It’s only possible to use Microsoft Edge, the native Windows browser. Chrome cannot be used.
  • Software not found in the Windows Store cannot be installed. Companies which rely on software not found in the Windows Store will have trouble using Windows 10S.
  • S mode is one-way. Once it has been disabled, it cannot be re-enabled.
  • If these restrictions pose no concern for a company, then S mode represents another layer of security which help keep devices locked up against cybercriminals. However, Microsoft does recommend that S mode is used in conjunction with – not as a replacement for – other traditional forms of cybersecurity, such as an antivirus.

How to Enable S Mode for Windows 10

Enabling S mode is a simple but highly technical procedure. Therefore, Smile recommends that companies without a trained IT specialist contact a technician. Likewise, it is also possible to have S mode installed by manufacturers when purchasing a new device.

However, for IT professionals, Microsoft has published the instructions for enabling S mode on qualifying devices. Please refer to the official documentation from Microsoft for this procedure.

Improve Company Security Today

Maintaining device – and therefore data – security remains among one of the most critical concerns for companies today. As businesses increasingly rely on digital capabilities to keep pace with markets and customers, there are more opportunities for criminals to steal valuable information.

Windows 10S is one option for companies seeking ways to secure their digital environment. It is a potentially cost-effective, and secure strategy for ensuring that corporate or school computers remain safe.

Smile Business Products is dedicated to helping you design efficient, secure business environments. Contact us today to discuss how Windows 10S can benefit your organization.

How Vulnerable is Your Business WiFi Network?

Businesses are now more vulnerable than most executives think. Today, it’s more likely to experience a security breach than not – over half of businesses get hacked every year. Sometimes, these breaches happen because businesses don’t adhere to a standard, current best practices in security systems and protocols.

Other times, the sources of security breaches are much more subtle and easy to overlook. Here are some common (and less common) sources of high-risk security vulnerabilities in business networks, as well as strategies for companies to address them.

Commonly Overlooked Business WiFi Risks to Avoid

Consider the well-known, high-risk security concerns for the average business. These are the “red flag” items on standardized risk assessments, like client information database breaches and DoS attacks. However, today’s cybercriminals are finding new methods of exploitation, leading to a new set of best practices in business security networks. Staying abreast of these developments can be challenging for a busy company, and some of the most common missteps include:

1. An Unprotected Print Environment

All devices on a business network, including printers, MFPs, and copiers, represent an area of risk that may fall outside the typical security priorities of an IT department. However, security research groups have identified printers and print networks as a potential source of security breaches and stolen data for businesses.

Not only should best practices for print security receive attention and action (such as setting an appropriate IP address status and password-protecting connected printers), but the entire print network as well. Source devices such as desktop computers and mobile devices sending data over WiFi should all be considered as points of risk.

2. Out-of-Date Drivers and Firmware

For most IT departments, managing hardware drivers is a complicated task in and of itself. For a busy office with a variety of devices, perhaps with satellite offices and remote users, maintaining up-to-date drivers and firmware across an entire print fleet can be a significant pain point. However, this challenge also presents cybercriminals with an excellent opportunity to discover weaknesses in business networks.

Ensuring that the entire organization is operating with the latest firmware updates and patches as released by the manufacturers is an essential part of maintaining good overall network security. Similarly, building systems that push out regular driver updates to users across all connected devices protect the system from vulnerabilities before and during data transit to printers or other connected devices.

3. Unmanaged User Behavior

The effectiveness of a security system relies on the quality of user behavior within that system. Even a robust system could be compromised by an employee clicking a link in a phishing email, an out-of-date firewall, or even accessing a network site on an unanticipated device.

Mobile device security also represents an increasingly large portion of business WiFi attention. Business mobile device management focuses on both business-owned mobile device security protocols, and private or guest devices on a network. User behavior while connected to a business network, including email and app usage, can impact a network’s security.

Effective Monitoring Helps Businesses Track Real-Time Vulnerabilities

Ongoing network monitoring is another critical component of business network security. Live analysis of WiFi traffic through network servers and routers can help an IT department understand user behavior and needs, as well as minimize the response time during a breach.

Collecting and monitoring data passing through a business WiFi network can help an organization get in front of issues before they become a serious concern or become exploited by a cybercriminal. This is equally important for remote monitoring of satellite offices.

How Managed Network Services Protect Businesses

To stay abreast of a constantly changing environment, many businesses are choosing to outsource their network needs. Managed network services are ideal for organizations who don’t have the expertise to maintain a robust security system alone. By outsourcing network security, businesses benefit from the latest security protocols across their entire network, active monitoring for vulnerabilities, and immediate response in the event of a security breach.

Effective network security begins with a comprehensive assessment. To determine the security status of a business network, a thorough evaluation of connected hardware and software is essential to gain information about any potential vulnerabilities. At Smile, we work with each client individually to assess their unique network arrangement, user behavior, and processes to close security gaps and protect businesses and their customers.

Ready to take control of your business network security? Contact us today to schedule an initial assessment and set a roadmap to security for your systems and data.