Securing Cortana

Knowing how to secure these IoT devices is key to having good private and company security.

It seems these days we all have a little personal assistant. Apple has Siri, Google has Google assistant, and Windows® has Cortana. Cortana is like Siri in that you can ask it for directions, tell it to make appointments on your calendar, and so on. But there is an inherent risk in using these assistants without securing them. Unless there are controls on who can access and use your personal assistant, your information could be at risk of being stolen. Here are some steps you can take to make Windows Cortana a little more secure.

First you can limit how much access Cortana has to personal data and make it perform more like the old search box used to. To start, click on the Cortana search field, found in the lower-left corner of your Windows 10 desktop. Once the Cortana display appears, click the Settings icon as shown below. The Cortana Settings will appear in the Settings app.

Windows 10 Fall Creator Update Cortana Settings

Let’s look at the settings for Cortana:

Windows 10 Fall Creator Update Talk To Cortana


From here you can change all the settings, including the “Hey Cortana” function, keyboard shortcuts, and the ability to use Cortana from a locked screen. Notice the other tabs, too: Permissions and History, Notifications, and More details. All have fields you can change. A side note:  If you have more than one device with Cortana, you will need to change the setting on each device.

Another big setting you may want to change is Ad tracking. This is the function that gives you the targeted ad based on your browsing history. To change Ad tracking, do the following:

  • Click or tap the Windows Start button in the lower left-hand corner of your Windows desktop.
  • Click or tap the “Settings” icon. (It’s that little gear just above the “power” button icon.)
  • Click or tap the “Privacy” icon in the Settings menu.
  • In the Privacy menu, click or tap the “General” menu option if it isn’t already selected.
  • Turn off “Let apps use my advertising ID for experiences across apps,” as shown below.
Windows 10 Fall Creator Update Ad Tracking Settings

A best practice for a more secure environment is to set all these setting to the off position.

More and more privacy rights are being called to the forefront with the various “listening assistants” on almost every device today. Taking these few small steps can help to make your use of them more secure and more enjoyable.

Siri™ is a trademark of Apple Inc.  Google Assistant™ is a trademark of Google LLC.  Cortana™ is a trademark of Microsoft Corporation.  

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