Blowing the lid: Windows 10 Worst Secrets Spinning Out Of Control

Windows Data Microsoft Tracking

 

Back in November Microsoft confirmed Windows 10’s worst kept secret: its extensive telemetry (or ‘spying’ as it has been labelled) cannot be stopped.
What no-one realised until now, however, is just how staggering the extent of this tracking really is…
Blowing the lid on it this week is Voat user CheesusCrust whose extensive investigation found Windows 10 contacts Microsoft to report data thousands of times per day. And the kicker? This happens after choosing a custom Windows 10 installation and disabling all three pages of tracking options which are all enabled by default.
The raw numbers come out as follows: in an eight hour period Windows 10 tried to send data back to 51 different Microsoft IP addresses over 5500 times. After 30 hours of use, Windows 10 expanded that data reporting to 113 non-private IP addresses. Being non-private means there is the potential for hackers to intercept this data.
‘Get Windows 10′ notifications and upgrade pressure is being cranked ever higher. Image credit: Gordon Kelly Taking this a step further, the testing was then repeated on another Windows 10 clean installation again with all data tracking options disabled and third party tool DisableWinTracking was also installed which tries to shut down all hidden Windows 10 data reporting attempts. At the end of the 30 hour period Windows 10 had still managed to phone home with data 2758 times to 30 different IP addresses. The full tabulated results can be seen on the user’s Voat thread and is also broken down on gHacks.
A further interesting fact is these tests were conducted using Windows 10 Enterprise Edition – the version of Windows 10 with most granular level of user control and far more than the standard Windows 10 Home edition used by most consumers. All of which confirms, this controversial data tracking simply cannot be stopped.
What To Make Of This
The obvious first reaction to this might be to panic and scream about class action lawsuits, but it’s a little more complicated than that.
Firstly the Windows 10 EULA (end user licence agreement) which very few users ever read, gives Microsoft full legal rights to do this. Secondly Microsoft has made several attempts to stress that the telemetry and data tracking aspects to Windows 10 are essential to its ongoing maintenance and improvement.
Speaking in November, Microsoft Corporate Vice President Joe Belfiore argued: “In the cases where we’ve not provided options [to disable tracking], we feel that those things have to do with the health of the system…In the case of knowing that our system that we’ve created is crashing, or is having serious performance problems, we view that as so helpful to the ecosystem and so not an issue of personal privacy, that today we collect that data so that we make that experience better for everyone.”
Microsoft is leaving users with little to no choice about upgrading to Windows 10, but what will they find there?
He also stressed: “We’re going to continue to listen to what the broad public says about these decisions, and ultimately our goal is to balance the right thing happening for the most people – really, for everyone – with the complexity that comes with putting in a whole lot of control.”
And yes, of course, the problem here is one of scale. For most users essential “health of the system” will not tally with Windows 10 making thousands of data connections every day to over 100 Microsoft IP addresses. And, more to the point, even if all this data sharing is somehow vital then Microsoft has made no attempt to explain why or divulge the processes at play.
With this in mind I contacted Microsoft asking it to explain this data and held back on publishing 24 hours so the company had full right of reply. The response was worryingly predictable: “I’m afraid we are not able to provide a comment on this.”
This is the same response I’ve to Windows 8 support cuts, Windows 10 future pricing and lifecycle support as well as data tracking. In fact this is the same response the company gives to almost any question relating to disclosure of how its operating systems are being run. It’s a notable change in policy from the openness of Microsoft in the past and makes the comment this week from BetaNews’ Mark Wilson all the more pertinent:
“With Microsoft facing unprecedented levels of criticism for its lack of transparency over spying components, these findings will serve only to add fuel to the fire.”
Yes, this is the issue in a nutshell – yet again ( via forbes.com ).
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4 Responses to “Blowing the lid: Windows 10 Worst Secrets Spinning Out Of Control”

  1. Nollidge says:

    This has been known since a few weeks after Win 10 came out.ALL Windows releases since Win 95 have had N.S.A ordered “back doors” coded into them.Win 10 just happens to have taking the spying to new heights.If Microsoft hadn’t complied you’d probably only remember them as an early operating system curiosity which,for some reason, never made the grade.We’d now all be using some other O.S. who’s owners did as they were told.
    & don’t forget all those freeware,shareware,firmware & hardware driver programmes too.Who wrote them?
    Were they doing as a part-time job on sabbatical from the N.S.A & G.C.H.Q.?
    Unless someone blows the whistle much more than Snowden did we’ll never know.

  2. Lynn says:

    Espionage…simple. They are using this on many fronts.. A total control grid. I ask the youngsters in my family…why is the state spying on you…wanting to know who and what you are doing..when mum and dad don’t even know. They think about it and another seed is set. Companies being watched and every transaction watched. It is totally ilicit. No such thing as freedom anymore.

  3. bignumbas says:

    I have been in IT for 30 years and I find this article more technically correct about this articles deductions.

    http://www.zdnet.com/article/when-it-comes-to-windows-10-privacy-dont-trust-amateur-analysts/?tag=nl.e539&s_cid=e539&ttag=e539&ftag=TRE17cfd61

    • ferryt says:

      30 years in IT you say? You should know that zdnet isn’t exactly the most reliable of sources then, as noted by this comment on the article you recommend:

      “ZDNet has a long history of subjective and misleading pro windows articles. This is just another clear example. Ed Bott, the author of this article, makes his living authoring tutorial and educational books for the various Windows OS’s. He uses ZDNet as soap box for his self serving propaganda. I’d encourage anyone who doesn’t enjoy being spoon fed BS to join me in unliking ZDNet”.

      With 30 years IT experience I would also expect you to be able to post a link as so: http://www.zdnet.com/article/when-it-comes-to-windows-10-privacy-dont-trust-amateur-analysts
      rather than the one you posted. It shows, er a lack of understanding.

      I’m calling BS. Is that you Ed Bott?

      Windows 10 is frankly terrifying. Stay away. I recommend Linux Mint. If you get stuck ask a techie friend (but probably not Ed Bott).

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