Windows 7 Security Features

December 8, 2010, By Christian Cawley

One of the first things you should consider when using a new operating system is which security software you’re going to use.

But did you know that Windows 7 includes a free firewall, an encryption application and access to a free anti-spyware application?

Windows Firewall and Bit Locker are included in Windows 7, while Windows Defender can be regularly updated from Microsoft to provide anti-spyware scanning and protection against malicious software threats.

While no user should resort to using these security solutions exclusively, they are free and easy to use.

Windows Defender is included as a security option in Windows 7

Windows Firewall

Available via Start > Control Panel > Network and Internet > Network and Sharing Center > Windows Firewall (or by typing firewall into the Start > Search box), the Windows Firewall has been upgraded in Windows 7 to provide protection on different types of network: private home or work networks and public networks.

For most users the Windows Firewall won’t require much configuration (although Advanced settings can be applied) and you can enable or disable Windows Firewall via Turn Windows Firewall on or off. In this screen you can also alter the notification settings, opting whether to have notifications when software is blocked and you can also command Windows Firewall to block all incoming connections regardless of the program receiving the data.

These changes can be made for private and public networks, and if you find you have misconfigured the firewall you can use the Restore defaults option to resolve this.

Windows Defender

One key addition to Windows 7 is Windows Defender, a component that had previously been available to Windows XP users.

This software takes the form of an antispyware utility that can detect and remove Spyware from your PC in order to maintain control over your personal data. The best way to launch Windows Defender is by typing defender into the Start > Search box and await the results.

When running the tool, the first thing to do is to check for updates. These updates are definitions, an encyclopaedia of threat profiles that Windows Defender uses to detect and remove threats.

The best way to ensure this occurs and that Windows Defender does a full scan of your system is to schedule this to occur. You can do this in Tools > Options > Automatic Scanning, where you can setup the utility to Automatically Scan daily or weekly at a specified time, set the scan type (Quick scan or Full scan) and Check for updated definitions before scanning. Windows Defender has various configuration options and is a valuable tool in the fight against Spyware.


BitLocker is a file encryption system that protects your files from prying eyes. You can setup and configure the tool via Start > Control Panel > System and Security > BitLocker Drive Encryption or by typing bitlocker into the Start > Search box and tapping Enter.

Rather than allowing you to encrypt individual files as Encrypting File System (EFS), BitLocker instead manages the encryption of entire disk partitions, effectively blocking hackers from searching for system files to discover passwords.

One particularly powerful use for BitLocker is to protect your operating system disk drive. With BitLocker activated on a drive a recovery key is created which may be needed in future if changes to the BIOS or any startup files result in BitLocker refusing to boot into Windows.

Standard changes to the BIOS shouldn’t cause problems, however – BitLocker is a powerful security component of your Windows 7 operating system.

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