Windows 10 snooping and reporting back to Microsoft servers even if privacy settings are enabled
Seems like Windows 10 users have huge privacy headache on their hands. We had earlier reported that Microsoft EULA has some serious and ambiguous privacy related clauses but this one takes the cake. It seems that even after the user disable information sharing, Windows 10 continues to snoop and report back to Redmond.
According a research by Ars Technica, some Windows 10 features, such as Cortana and Bing search, continue sending data to Microsoft, even when they are turned off. The report says that some apps and services will communicate with Microsoft’s servers, even when the user tells them not to by the software’s various privacy settings.
One such instance is user’s OneDrive data. Ars reports that Windows 10 machine periodically sends OneDrive even on a local account that isn’t connected to a Microsoft account.
They noticed that Windows 10 will periodically send data to a Microsoft server named ssw.live.com. This server seems to be used for OneDrive and some other Microsoft services. Windows 10 seems to transmit information to the server even when OneDrive is disabled and logins are using a local account that isn’t connected to a Microsoft Account. To add to the uses woes is the fact that no one knows why this done or what type of data is being reported back to Microsoft.
“It’s not clear why any data is being sent at all,” wrote Ars Technica editor Peter Bright in a blog post Thursday.
Even with Cortana and searching the Web from the Start menu disabled, some user data is being communicated to Microsoft servers. Opening Start and typing will send a request to www.bing.com to request a file called threshold.appcache which appears to contain some Cortana information, even though Cortana is disabled. Ars says that the request for this file appears to contain a random machine ID that persists across reboots.
Importantly, Bright found out that all this data that is being sent to Microsoft servers is being piped to unencrypted channels. This could further open up a window for hackers and cybercriminals to launch a Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attack and remotely seize computer control or launch phishing campaigns.
“Disabling these services for those who don’t want to use them should really disable them,” said Bright. “And it’s not at all clear that Windows 10 is doing that right now.”
We had very much anticipate such issues with Windows 10. Once we made our report that Microsoft may be spying on you through Windows 10, public, it had its critics and supporters alike. Some users/readers have accused Microsoft of invading their privacy, others commented that they already knew Microsoft and Windows 10 will do such a thing. Many of our readers felt that the snooping features are necessary to provide better services to the end users and that readers were over reacting.
A vast majority of our readers said that they were not updating to Windows 10 because of such issues. Microsoft could be losing on potential customers due to such issues.