The Spy on My Desk­top

From GBR​.COM

Win­dows 10’s warm recep­tion has been sul­lied by con­cerns over data col­lec­tion, usage track­ing and spy­ing, which is enabled in the new oper­at­ing sys­tem by default. In fact, many peo­ple have avoided updat­ing to Win­dows 10 solely due to con­cerns sur­round­ing these issues. We told you how you can opt out of much of these data-​collecting fea­tures, and we also pointed you to six free tools that will help stop other Win­dows 10 func­tions that may com­pro­mise your data. But as it turns out, Win­dows 10 isn’t the only Microsoft oper­at­ing sys­tem col­lect­ing your data with­out your knowledge.

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Since the ini­tial wave of Win­dows 10 pri­vacy con­cerns washed over the web, peo­ple have been look­ing at Microsoft’s terms and pri­vacy poli­cies much more closely than they had been in the past. As it turns out, it didn’t take long for new issues to arise.

As noted in an arti­cle on gHacks, new updates pushed out recently to Win­dows 7 and Win­dows 8.1 include fea­tures that intro­duce some severe data col­lec­tion and track­ing fea­tures that some users will be uncom­fort­able with.

There are four updates in ques­tion, and descrip­tions of each one taken from Microsoft’s web­site fol­low below.

KB3068708 This update intro­duces the Diag­nos­tics and Teleme­try track­ing ser­vice to exist­ing devices. By apply­ing this ser­vice, you can add ben­e­fits from the lat­est ver­sion of Win­dows to sys­tems that have not yet upgraded. The update also sup­ports appli­ca­tions that are sub­scribed to Visual Stu­dio Appli­ca­tion Insights.

KB3022345 (replaced by KB3068708) This update intro­duces the Diag­nos­tics and Teleme­try track­ing ser­vice to in-​market devices. By apply­ing this ser­vice, you can add ben­e­fits from the lat­est ver­sion of Win­dows to sys­tems that have not yet been upgraded. The update also sup­ports appli­ca­tions that are sub­scribed to Visual Stu­dio Appli­ca­tion Insights.

KB3075249 This update adds teleme­try points to the User Account Con­trol (UAC) fea­ture to col­lect infor­ma­tion on ele­va­tions that come from low integrity levels.

KB3080149 This pack­age updates the Diag­nos­tics and Teleme­try track­ing ser­vice to exist­ing devices. This ser­vice pro­vides ben­e­fits from the lat­est ver­sion of Win­dows to sys­tems that have not yet upgraded. The update also sup­ports appli­ca­tions that are sub­scribed to Visual Stu­dio Appli­ca­tion Insights.

Accord­ing to the report, Microsoft bypasses any edited instruc­tions in the Hosts file and exchanges data with vor​tex​-win​.data​.microsoft​.com and set​tings​-win​.data​.microsoft​.com, pos­si­bly among others.

So, what can you do to stop it?

First, you can avoid installing these four updates alto­gether. If they have already been installed, they can be unin­stalled from within the Con­trol Panel (here’s a guide), or advanced users can type the fol­low­ing four com­mands using an ele­vated com­mand prompt:

  • wusa /​uninstall /kb:3068708 /​quiet /​norestart
  • wusa /​uninstall /kb:3022345 /​quiet /​norestart
  • wusa /​uninstall /kb:3075249 /​quiet /​norestart
  • wusa /​uninstall /kb:3080149 /​quiet /​norestart

Once the updates are unin­stalled, use the Win­dows Update mech­a­nism to “hide” them (here’s a guide) so that your oper­at­ing sys­tem doesn’t try to rein­stall them

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