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Author Topic: What Windows 10 spying really does.  (Read 1065 times)

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What Windows 10 spying really does.
« on: August 24, 2015, 05:35:23 am »
Windows 10 is more like a terminal than an OS. Because of the extent of the cloud integration, a large portion of the OS is dependent on remote Microsoft servers. The amount of collected information, even with strict privacy settings, is alarming!

All text typed on the keyboard is stored in temporary files, and sent once every 30 minutes to:

There is autocorrect in certain text fields, but whether a full keylog is necessary for this (as opposed to just corrections) is questionable. This also appears to still occur even if the user is not signed in to a Microsoft account, eliminating the across devices benefit. Perhaps there is a global autocorrect dictionary that benefits all users, but the privacy implications of an un-disableable "always on" keylogger outweigh these potential benefits. The implications of this are significant: because this is an OS-level keylogger, all the data you're trying to transmit securely is now sitting on some MS server. This includes passwords and encrypted chats. This also includes the on-screen keyboard, so there is no way to authenticate to a website without MS also getting your password.

Telemetry is sent once per 5 minutes, to:

You might think that "telemetry" has to do with OS usage or similar... turns out it's telemetry about the user. For example, typing a phone number anywhere into the Edge browser transmits it to the servers above.

In another example, typing the name of any popular movie into your local file search starts a telemetry process that indexes all media files on your computer and transmits them to:

It's hard to imagine any purpose for this other than the obvious piracy crackdown possiblities.

When a webcam is first enabled, ~35mb of data gets immediately transmitted to:

Everything that is said into an enabled microphone is immediately transmitted to:

If this weren't bad enough, this behaviour still occurs after Cortana is disabled or uninstalled. It's speculated that the purpose of this function to build up a massive voice database, then tie those voices to identities, and eventually be able to identify anyone simply by picking up their voice, whether it be a microphone in a public place or a wiretap on a payphone.

Interestingly, if Cortana is enabled, the voice is first transcribed to text, then the transcription is sent to:

If Windows is left unattended for ~15 mins, a large volume of traffic starts being transmitted to various servers. This may be the raw audio data, rather than just samples.

You'd think you might be able to block all of the above servers via HOSTS, it turns out this won't work. Microsoft has taken the care to hardcode certain IPs, meaning that there is no DNS lookup and no HOSTS consultation. However, if the above servers are blocked via HOSTS, Windows will pretend to be crippled by continuously throwing errors, while still maintaining data collection in the background. Other than an increase in errors, HOSTS blocking did not affect the volume, frequency, or rate of data being transmitted.

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