Windows 10 Privacy Concerns

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m sure you are aware that the Windows 10 update has been released. Naturally, it isn’t without it’s flaws, and one of the biggest is the concerns about privacy. Many articles and blog posts have been written about the intrusion by Microsoft into your personal information, such as the one rumor flying around that Microsoft will use your computer (and thus your bandwidth) to send out updates to other users. Is there much ado about nothing, or does the public have some valid concerns? I upgraded to Windows 10 just a few days ago, and wish now that I’d read this before installing. But read on!

Ask Bob Rankin‘s blog tells about five things you must do now to protect your privacy on your Windows 10 OS.

If you allow Windows 10 to upgrade your existing system automatically, as I did, it will enable many default settings that you may not want enabled.

Bob discovered five privacy-related features you may want to tweak or disable. Here they are…I lifted this directly from the article, which you can find by clicking here: Do These 5 Things Now.

“Windows Update Delivery Optimization (WUDO) is a peer-to-peer file distribution server, like a Bittorrent client, built right into Win 10. WUDO doesn’t just speed up delivery of Windows updates to you. Instead, pieces of the Win 10 installation and update files on your machine and/or local network may be distributed to other Win 10 users who need them.
Windows 10 Privacy settings

“Instead of investing in a global content-delivery system, Microsoft is using YOUR upload bandwidth to distribute its product! There’s no evidence that WUDO is a threat to your privacy or security, it’s just a bit icky. And who knows if it might not be subverted by Evil Hackers tomorrow?

“If you have a fast Internet connection (especially the upload speed), you’re a trusting soul, and you don’t mind facilitating the distribution of Windows 10 to your friends and neighbors, do nothing. But if you prefer to disable WUDO, follow these steps:
•Open the Start Menu
•Click or tap “Settings”
•Select “Update & security”
•In the left-side pane, select “Windows Update”
•In the right-side pane, select “Advanced options”
•In the new right-side pane that opens, select “Choose how updates are delivered”
•Move the slider control under “Updates from more than one place” to “OFF”

“WiFi Sense is a Win 10 (and Windows Phone) feature that I think is nonsense. It lets your contacts, Facebook “friends,” and Skype contacts share your WiFi network without knowing the network key. You get access to their WiFi networks, too. But I don’t want share my WiFi with all of those contacts, and WiFi Sense does not permit discrimination at the individual level. Also, if some of your contacts have your network key and use WiFi Sense, you may get total strangers using your WiFi.

“Fortunately, this feature is also optional. To learn more about WiFi Sense, and for instructions on how to disable it, see my article Is Windows 10 WiFi Sense Nonsense?

“Should you opt out of personalized ads? This one is tricky. With ad personalization turned on, Microsoft will try to show you the ads that are chosen ‘based on the sites that you visit, your online searches and more.’ Some find this useful, and some find it creepy, when they see ads for products directly related to web pages they’ve recently browsed. Turning off ad personalization won’t turn off ads, but it will ensure that the ads you see are completely unrelated to your interests. Again, Microsoft makes it easy to turn it off; just visit this link and toggle tracking “off” in your browser and on your Microsoft account, if you ever use one.

“But don’t think that ends the collection of data about your online or even offline activities. Consider what’s in the privacy policy linked at the bottom of the page:

” ‘Microsoft collects data to operate effectively and provide you the best experiences with our services. You provide some of this data directly, such as when you create a Microsoft account, submit a search query to Bing, speak a voice command to Cortana, upload a document to OneDrive, or contact us for support. We get some of it by recording how you interact with our services by, for example, using technologies like cookies, and receiving error reports or usage data from software running on your device. We also obtain data from third parties (including other companies).’

Cortana is a personal assistant built into Windows 10. It’s ability to respond to voice commands is similar to Siri on the iPhone, or the “OK Google” feature on Android phones. Some pundits believe that Cortana is the omnipresent, silent observer of everything you do, online or offline, reporting it back to Microsoft. I’m not so sure about that. But to disable Cortana and end the collection of data through it, type “cortana” in the search box and click on the first link in the search results (system settings). Then slide the off/on switch to “OFF”.

“Last but not least, wade through the 13 pages (yes, thirteen!) of Privacy Settings and turn off whatever seems appropriate. Type “privacy settings” in the search box to find the link to that system settings page.

“It’s a bit tedious to batten down the privacy hatches in Windows 10. But at least Microsoft makes it possible to do so. And remember, this isn’t just an issue with Microsoft. Most of the snooping (and perhaps more) that Windows 10 does is also done by Google and Facebook.

“Google recently implemented a Security and Privacy Dashboard that makes it fairly easy to understand and manage the related settings. But Facebook gives you few privacy controls, and obscures their privacy and data collection policies in a collection of documents containing over 20,000 words.

“Don’t get me wrong on Windows 10. For the most part, I’m very pleasantly surprised at how well the folks in Redmond reponded to the many (well deserved) criticisms of Windows 8. Win 10 is a huge improvement in usability, and will probably speed up your computing. But information is power, and it’s better to have that power in your hands. Take a few minutes to review and tweak your Windows 10 privacy settings.”

I hope you find this information helpful.

I remain respectfully yours,
~ Suzanne Piers, ZoHa Islands Blogger/Social Media