Aside from the significant changes in Windows 10 such as a new start menu and better interaction between the desktop environment and application interfaces, there are new features and changes related to networking in this OS. Although, configuring process and connecting to the network hasn’t changed, new features have been added that might be worth taking a look at them. Especially since some of these new features can have negative effects on your network security if you don’t take care of them properly.
Little changes in the Graphical interface of network settings
We start the article from the usual sections: By clicking on the network icon in windows 10, a list of available networks will be shown, such as wireless networks around you and the network you are currently connected to. The look of this list has been brought back to the old way of Windows 7.
Also, in windows 8 and 8.1, the View Connection Settings shortcut was at the top of the network list. In Windows 10, it has been replaced by a simple Network Settings shortcut at the bottom of the list. However, it still leads you to Wi-Fi settings in the Settings application. Like Windows 8.1, you can’t right-click on the network names in the list (you could do this in Windows 8 and older versions).
The network and Sharing Center section has almost stayed without changes in Windows 10. You can still right-click on the network icon through the system taskbar and click on Open Network and Sharing Center for more access. Other things and available settings in this center, including Advanced Sharing Settings, Network Connections (that show all the network adaptors), and the connection properties dialog box (from which you can change settings such as static IP details) are also left unchanged.
More options regarding Network in the Settings application
Microsoft has done some corrections in the Settings application, and now it is designed as a metro control panel. Although this section does not include all the options available in the traditional control panel, some other options have been added. Don’t forget that instead of a shortcut to the full control panel, a shortcut to the Settings application is now accessible through the new start menu. You can right-click on the start button to access the control panel.
After opening the Settings application, you will see buttons that each one contains different categories for settings. Clicking on Network & Internet category will take you to the first tab which is Wi-Fi settings. In the Wi-Fi list, you can see Wireless networks around you and a link to Advanced Options. By going through Advanced Options, you can see IP details and you can also change the sharing settings of the network you are currently connected to.
Microsoft has added a new link named Manage Wi-Fi settings which leads to the Wi-Fi page. This link takes you to the section of Wi-Fi Sense options, which is a new section for syncing Wi-Fi passwords. Links below the Related Settings section are shortcuts to other network-related settings that are outside of the Settings application.
Data Usage tab in the Network & Internet settings section has been recently added to the Settings application.
You will have a dedicated tab for each of network connections such as Dial-up, VPN, and Ethernet. Each of them contains information about that connection and shortcuts related to it. Instead of putting the list of all connections on one page in the Settings application like Windows 8 and 8.1, in Windows 10 each of the connections has their specific page.
The last tab on the page of Network & Internet is Proxy. Like Windows 8 and 8.1, you can do the proxy-related settings in this section or from the dialog window of the Internet option in the Internet Explorer.
Monitoring data usage amount
Microsoft introduced monitoring data usage first in Windows 8, but this Windows could only show data used in Windows application except for the traditional desktop application. By Windows 10 entry, now you can see the data used in all desktop applications and programs. However, this can only be done through one of the two sections available in Windows. App History tab in Task manager still only shows Windows applications. But, the new Data Usage page in the Settings application, shows all of the used data. To access this section, first, you must open the Settings application and choose the Network & Internet category, then go for the Data usage tab. After this, you will see a simple chart along with the amount of user data during the last 30 days among the different network connections (e.g. Wi-Fi and Ethernet).
By clicking on the Usage Details link in the Data Usage tab, you can also see the amount of data used by each of the desktop applications and programs (sorted by maximum to minimum usage).
Sharing Wi-Fi password with Wi-Fi sense
One of the most famous and controversial network features newly presented in Windows 10 is the Wi-Fi Sense section. This feature is a synchronization service that allows users to share Wi-Fi passwords with friends or contacts list on Facebook, outlook.com, and Skype. This feature has been added so the users don’t have to ask their friends’ Network passwords anymore. Therefore, the problem of forgetting the password is solved and the security risks of saying it out loud are minimized. But, as you will see in the following, you might have to consider some security actions.
When you connect to a network for the first time, check the box below the Password, then Windows will share this password with your friends or your contacts list. After this, whenever your friends are near to the network you shared with them (If you use Windows 10 or Windows Phone 8 or higher versions), they will automatically be connected to it. If you have selected Express Settings manually in the primary set of Windows 10, this feature will be selected by default.
Wi-Fi Sense will also track which users are automatically connected to the network from Hotspot, open networks, or without a password. Furthermore, Wi-Fi Sense can automatically accept some terms and conditions of Hotspots without your direct interaction (and clicking on the Agree button). This feature will also be activated by default if you have selected Express Settings in the primary set of Windows 10.
Although Microsoft has used some security mechanisms in Wi-Fi Sense, one must be aware of the security risks. Windows will deactivate the network searching and sharing feature once you are connected to a network via Wi-Fi Sense, but still, people with proper tools can track all the wireless traffic and probably connect to computers and have access to the connected devices. This can be done in two ways: the attacker can either search you when he is connecting to your network or he can do it when you are connecting to their network.
Be cautious not to let Windows use all of your mobile connection
Your password may be shared with others without your permission. You may check the share box accidentally. Even worse than that, another user who has your password may share it with his/her friend.
Since using Wi-Fi Sense brings its related security risks and this feature is considered for home usage and hotspots, it might be better to turn it off when using a business or office network. Remember that Wi-Fi Sense Does not share networks that have enterprise security level encrypted as WPA and WPA2. So, one way to stop your network from being shared by others through this service is to determine the security level of the enterprise by authentication on 802.1X wireless networks, which give you lots of other advantages.
If your network security level is in personal mode (known as pre-shared key mode) and encrypted with WPA and WPA2, you will be able to stop Wi-Fi Sense from sharing the Password.