Is Windows 10 Private?
Privacy Concerns Over Windows 10
There have rightly been some major security concerns over Microsoft’s Windows 10 rollout. Namely, there are security breach “allowances” that casually and without any fanfare to the user monitors your private data (i.e., the new OS fails to alert users properly that portions of your private data and PC activities are being sent back to Microsoft for analysis). If you are reading this, you are likely already familiar with the release of Windows 10 in the summer of 2015, the subsequent free upgrade offer and Anniversary Update Edition re-iteration, and the subsequent snafu that resulted from it this last month.
Here is the latest on the Windows 10 privacy concerns, specifically:
- Synched Accounts Issues. If you enthusiastically upgraded to Windows 10 and its instructions, then you synched your Microsoft account with your Windows 10 account, resulting in things like your Edge browser history, favorites, passwords, Windows themes and more being stored on Microsoft’s servers. If you aren’t okay with that (and you shouldn’t be), then you can turn off the synching feature by going to the Start menu then Settings > Accounts, and under “Sync your settings” uncheck each and every available option. Having a local account only for Windows eliminates a connection to Microsoft’s servers and any appertaining privacy issues.
- Software Scanning and Program Disabling. If you’re reading this, you’re probably also aware of the Xbox compatibility that came with the Windows 10 package. That great feature, though, along with the data manager Cortana in effect allows a licensing agreement add-on that allows Windows to remotely scan your PC and disable any “pirated” programs, or those it deems a security threat. Some argue Microsoft is just walking its talk about tougher security standards, but where will they draw the line in determining what can stay on your computer for you? To avoid this occurrence, disable Cortana, which itself has been under scrutiny as a possible data spy for Microsoft.
- Concerns Even After Disabling Account Synching and Cortana. This is perhaps the most disturbing aspect of Windows 10 so far – a study done by Peter Bright of ArsTechnica found that even with Windows 10 account settings at a local and de-selected for synching, private user information-sharing with Microsoft corporate still happens. Microsoft proponents will argue that much of the information sharing is harmless, such as MS checking to see your Internet Protocol settings, or basic interactive stuff that doesn’t include sensitive data sharing. But, there seems to be a stronger case against these Windows 10 data-sharing allowances, most namely in the fact of its cross-platform machine identification, with “alerts” that are based on your physical location and certain access settings that, taken together, present a good case that all it is is sanctioned, or licensed spying on Microsoft’s part.
Concerned Microsoft users are reverting to earlier versions of Windows, such as 7, or migrating to free, open-source operating systems like Linux Mint, which many users favor over any Windows OS.
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