Microsoft engages in total citizen surveillance and does not hide it. The Windows 10 operating system regularly sends megabytes of confidential information to servers. Microsoft says user data is secure, but is it really? How and why is the data collected? Is it possible to get rid of constant surveillance and protect personal information?
How Windows Monitors Users
Microsoft is open that its product collects and transmits data to servers. This is spelled out in the privacy statement, which is difficult for people without legal training to understand. The information collected is used to deliver targeted advertisements and to improve the operation of the software.
Spying on users is done using embedded systems:
- Cortana voice assistant records and sends all received commands and requests to servers. Even after being disabled, it continues to run in the background.
- The Microsoft Edge browser reads and remembers everything a person types on the keyboard.
- The telemetry server determines the location with an accuracy of several meters.
- The webcam turns on briefly on first start and transmits some data. What exactly is unknown.
- Windows Defender Antivirus monitors downloaded files and changes to settings.
Windows collects information about all installed programs, the amount of memory, and the state of the computer as a whole as part of its anti-piracy policy. Microsoft aims to eliminate any possibility of illegal downloading of American films and series. Therefore, the files stored on the computer are systematically checked against the list of pirated novelties. Microsoft even has the right to remove suspicious programs from any computer.
How to Opt Out of Tracking and Information Collection
There is no visible reason for voluntary consent to data collection, so it is best to protect yourself from unwanted surveillance even at the system installation stage. To do this, go to the “Settings” tab and disable all those that are not necessary by unchecking the boxes. In an already installed operating system, you can also change settings that will help reduce the amount of information collected.
Refusing to create an account with Microsoft and only using a local account in the future will help reduce the amount of data transferred. If you still decide to create it, do it without being tied to email.
To prevent tracking, you must change the privacy settings of your personal computer. From the Start menu, navigate to the Settings tab. In the “Privacy” section, we disable all system manipulations that lead to data leakage. To do this, move the slider to the “Off” position. After each system update, it will be necessary to check whether the settings have changed and, if necessary, to repeat the manual shutdown.
Some tips to avoid certain types of tracking:
- do not use the Cortana voice assistant;
- do not use the built-in Microsoft Edge browser;
- deactivate your Microsoft account;
- uninstall Windows Metro from your computer.
Microsoft ensures that all data is protected, but no one guarantees that the information will not be disclosed. Unfortunately, it will not be possible to completely get rid of tracking and collection of personal information. But the amount of collected information can be significantly reduced with the help of simple actions.