Monday27 March 2023

New Windows 10 Technical Preview Hides a Keylogger This Time

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As the world gets all excited about some of the new “features” in Windows 10 there are some in the press (and consumers) that are less than thrilled about them. We are talking about Cortana and some of the predictive typing tools and features that Microsoft has embedded and how they really work. On the surface the concept of predictive text and searches is a pretty neat idea. After you type something in, or search for a topic your system will build a small database of information to help you find those things again.

The problem comes when the information is no longer stored locally and the developer decides to pull that data, store it and then use it for their own purposes. With the Windows 10 preview there was always the fact that Microsoft would be collecting information about you and your network. They even included it when you install the new OS. This did not deter many people from installing and using the new software in many cases people simply ignore the terms and conditions because they really do not care. There is no particular trust of Microsoft that cause this, they just do not care to read through all of the crap and figure that they can find a way out of it anyway.

Sadly, in this case, there is no way out of the information that Microsoft collects about your network or other personal information. Once they have it, well it is theirs and there is little that you can do about it since you agreed to it. True, it is still not exactly ethical to do this sort of data gathering, but it is not illegal. Now, Microsoft has taken things a little farther and are including what amounts to a key logger in the latest version of Windows 10. They spell it out for you by saying that they can capture what you type. They claim this is to help with spell checking and autocomplete, but that rings a little hollow and also put the end user at risk depending on how this key logger works. If it is a standard one that means it is also capturing passwords as they are typed into web forms or other protected programs. This collection puts people at risk of having their information stolen by a malicious person.

It is an unusual and rather foolish move by Microsoft to implement something like this even in a technical preview. People are going to want to test systems and services they commonly use like Steam, YouTube, Adobe and more. Most of these are password protected and now open to compromise simply because Microsoft feels the need to improve autocomplete and spell check.

Microsoft is not the only company to start collecting more and more data about their users though. We are seeing the trend across multiple companies and platforms. On the surface this data is to be used to improve the OS, searches and the relevance of ads that are pushed at you. However this collection of personal information is a treasure trove for anyone looking to grab your identity or other malicious purposes. It is also unlikely that this collection trend will slow or stop, the information is much too valuable to the companies that gather it.

We do expect to see Microsoft drop in more data collection “features” into Windows 10, but we also hope that they can be turned off like most of them can in Windows 8 and 7. Still we would highly recommend that anyone installing any version of Windows be very careful about what they leave enabled and make sure you read just exactly what you are getting yourself into when you click that accept button.

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Last modified on Thursday, 29 January 2015 10:15

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