The discussion surrounding the telemetry and data of users of Windows 10 which is collected by Microsoft has been energetic and not without a certain amount of vitriol. Until this past week, much of it has been based on educated guesses and traffic analysis, with Microsoft deigning to provided specifics. That has changed with the upcoming release of the Creators Update and Microsoft have finally released the details of what data they collect in both the new Basic and Full modes.
The list is impressive.
The new Basic mode is the same as the previous Full mode, collecting hardware and software information and how they are used, driver usage data, inking and typing data and allowing remote access of your machine and documents without your knowledge. While this will certainly help with troubleshooting Windows issues it does seem a bit much to collect without users approval.
The new Full mode is even more like an overly attentive software company, it includes all of the above plus it collects your user settings and preferences, installed browsers and the use thereof, an inventory of attached peripherals and how long you use them, a list of every application you've ever installed and a long list of other data which the Register lists here.
Windows 10 Enterprise and some of the Windows Server 2016 editions offer a bit more control which is good, considering many companies sign agreements with clients to the effect that none of their data will be shared with third parties. That is something Microsoft seems to have trouble comprehending as they continue to pressure businesses to update their infrastructure.
All of this data does help Microsoft collect errors and develop effective fixes but one questions the necessity of the sheer amount of extraneous data collected at the same time. Perhaps some of the more paranoid claims made by people on the internet were not all that far off base after all.
If Microsoft does not offer ways to disable at least some of these features, let us hope that security companies find ways to block them; every single one is a vulnerability which could be exploited by people other than Microsoft.
"Right now, it's doing a little damage control, and preempting complaints about privacy, by listing the types of information its operating system will automatically and silently leak from PCs, slabs, and laptops back to Redmond."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Stop us if you've heard this: Cisco Aironet has hard-coded passwords @ The Register
- BrickerBot: Mirai-like malware threatens to brick insecure IoT devices @ The Inquirer
- Surface Pro 5 gets new CPUs but keeps the proprietary power connector @ Ars Technica
- Game emulators are now banned from the Windows Store @ The Inquirer