Big Brother is definitely watching you! Some people claim that Windows 10 is the most intrusive operating system ever!
1. When you installed Windows 10 did you read the full terms and conditions? Like most of us I bet the answer will be no, but the devil is in the detail unfortunately. For instance Edge the new Microsoft internet browser sends your internet browsing history to Microsoft to help Cortana assist you more relevantly.
2. Cortana is Microsoft’s virtual assistant, which can ‘understand’ what you say to it i.e. it can translate the speech to commands etc. But this ‘understanding’ is provided by sending the information you type in to Cortana or say to Cortana to Microsoft’s Bing service which interprets it in real time to provide automatic suggestions. To quote from Microsoft’s Privacy Website “When you use your voice to ask or tell Cortana something, Microsoft uses your voice data to improve Cortana’s understanding of how you speak to keep improving Cortana’s recognition and responses and to improve other Microsoft products and services that use speech recognition. When the “Hey Cortana” feature is on, Cortana wakes up when she hears the words “Hey Cortana,” and only collects your voice input after she hears those key words.”
3. Windows 10 assigns an advertising ID to each user account.
4. Cortana knows your current location and uses it to make searches etc. more relevant to you and so that Microsoft can use your advertising ID to send you targeted advertising.
5. For Cortana to be able to assist you it needs access to your calendar and your contacts list.
6. To share information between all your devices i.e. PC, laptop, tablet and mobile phone your contact list, browser histories, calendar etc. are shared via your Microsoft account, on Microsoft’s cloud servers.
7. If you use Microsoft One Drive or other cloud services then potentially all your documents and photos are held on their servers.
8. When you download an app from the Microsoft Store on to your device Microsoft not only know which app you downloaded but how much you used it and when.
9. In July 2016 the French CNIL the National Data Protection Commission issues a formal notice to Microsoft to stop collecting excessive user information and data. Users can use a 4 digit PIN to access their Microsoft account account rather than a password but there is no limit on the number of times you can enter the wrong PIN and so there is essentially a lack of security. To read more go to www.cnil.fr
10. And if that wasn’t enough, the thing that ties all the above together of course is your Microsoft user ID. So if you want to be paranoid ‘they’ know who you are, your name, address, phone number, email address, what you have searched for on the internet, all of your contacts, all of your emails, your complete calendar, all of your documents, all of your photos and everything you say to Cortana !
And we are not just picking on Microsoft here it’s a fairly similar story with Apple’s OSX and Siri, and Google.
Nor are not just being negative about it, its very useful to have a seamless experience as we switch from your laptop to your phone and back updating something like a contact on one of them and it duplicates across your devices. Cloud backup systems are great for providing automatic backup of important documents in case of computer damage or loss.
Most people wont necessarily be concerned, but a lot of people will be blissful unaware of the amount of your personal data that is stored in places other than just on your computer!
Big brother is definitely watching and listening to you ….. you have been warned…