How safe is your computer? If it runs Windows 10, it is not safe at all according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The EFF accuses Microsoft of “blatantly disregarding” user choice and privacy, and says that by default, Windows 10 sends an “unprecedented amount of usage data” back to Redmond’s servers.
The EFF further states that while it’s possible to opt out of some of Microsoft’s data hoovering, this is “not a guarantee that your computer will stop talking to Microsoft’s servers”. Indeed, you’re forced to share at least some telemetry data with Redmond unless you’re running an enterprise version of Windows 10.
You can read the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s report at https://goo.gl/IY3TX5.
What should you do if you are presently using Windows 10?
Reverting back to an earlier version of Windows will create a bit more protection but not much. Earlier versions of Windows really are not much more secure than Windows 10.
Macintosh certainly is more secure but also has some security issues. To find a few thousand articles about Macintosh’s better security, go to Google.com and search on:
“Tim Cook” Macintosh security
Or go to https://duckduckgo.com/?q=%22Tim+Cook%22+Macintosh+security&t=hj&ia=web to perform the same search in a more secure manner on DuckDuckGo.
The downside is that a switch to Macintosh requires the purchase of new hardware. That is a good option if you are thinking about a new computer anyway but it may not be practical to abandon a rather new, expensive, and reasonably functional Windows computer.
Probably the best option is to switch to Linux, especially one of the versions that are noted for security. The better-known security-centric versions of Linux include: Tails, Qubes OS (a favorite of Edward Snowden), Whonix, UPR (Ubuntu Privacy Remix), and SELinux (Security-Enhanced Linux) developed by the NSA for use by US government agencies and also available to the general public.
Other Linux implementations are more popular and still are far more secure than Windows. The more popular Linux implementations for personal use include: Linux Mint (my favorite), Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, Arch Linux, Puppy Linux (good for very old computers), and probably a dozen or so others.
Today’s Linux implementations are much easier to use than the versions that were available some years ago. In fact, many of today’s Linux systems are easier to use than Windows 10. Installing new programs is also easier in many of today’s Linux implementations than it is in Windows.
For genealogists, the biggest downside is the fact there is only one really good Linux program available. GRAMPS (Genealogical Research and Analysis Management Programming System) is free, open source, genealogy software. GRAMPS is easy to install, easy to use, and contains most of the features found in today’s leading Windows and Macintosh genealogy programs.
Of course, the most attractive part of GRAMPS is its price tag: FREE. Versions for Windows and Macintosh are also available. GRAMPS may be found at https://gramps-project.org.