Newsletter Archives

  • How Windows 10 data collection trades privacy for security

    Excellent article from Fahmida Rashid, in InfoWorld.

    As you read it, keep in mind that Win10 Home and Pro are considered to be “consumer” versions. The snooping protections Fahmida describes are only available with Enterprise Win10.

    In other words, if you aren’t paying for Windows by the month, you’re in the “consumer” category.

  • Win10 “Allow Telemetry” required for Update control on Win10 Enterprise, Education

    Very interesting note from ch100:

    This would be funny, but… it is not

    In Windows 10, there are 2 Group Policies which are supposed to be used for the so called CBB = Current Branch for Business, to allow deferring updates and upgrades in Windows 10 until such a time that is commonly accepted that they are safe to install for businesses – about 1 month for updates and more for upgrades. They can be used by anyone with version Pro or higher.

    They are under
    Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Windows Update\Defer Windows Updates
    The policies are:

    • Select when Feature Updates are received
    • Select when Quality Updates are received

    When reading the description for each policy, under both, this note comes up:

    “Note: If the “Allow Telemetry” policy is set to 0, this policy will have no effect.”

    For those who are not aware, Allow Telemetry set to 0 is the so called Security setting which limits the telemetry to minimum, available only for the Enterprise version with its variations, including LTSB and Education and for Server 2016.

    Those policies are actually useful only to stand-alone computers or computers updating directly from Windows Update which is normally not the case for most Enterprise or Education installations. The networked computers have other ways to defer installations, either using WSUS or SCCM which uses WSUS as installed component.

    However for those computers requiring those policies, which actually delay Automatic Windows Update for a number of days, what the description says is that if the user does not agree to be monitored via telemetry, they cannot use those very useful policies.

    Microsoft would probably explain that they have no way to know how to defer the updates for computers which are not monitored by them, which is possible with the current code, but this means that their implementation is flawed.

    What does anyone else think about this implementation?

  • Windows 10 telemetry

    If you’ve been following the recent back-and-forth on Windows 10 snooping, Simon Bisson’s latest analysis on ZDNet is a must-read.

    Bottom line on Windows 10 Pro :

    for a PC with a standard load, logged into a Microsoft account and using Windows 10’s messaging service, we’re sending around 190 packets per hour to Microsoft servers, and around 130KB of data per hour.

    Since the data’s encrypted, there’s no way to know what’s being sent.

    Without unencrypting the telemetry packets Microsoft receives, we’re not going to know exactly what data it receives. But they’re small and relatively infrequent, so are unlikely to be packed with your personal data.

    My take is, and always has been, that the primary question is what Microsoft actually does with the data it collects. I’m also concerned that people are upgrading to Windows 10 without recognizing that there’s been a fundamental shift in the quantity and type of data being collected. I also think that Microsoft should get out ahead of the problem and proactively tell us what they’re collecting, and give us tools to view and opt out of data collection.

    It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if, five or ten years from now, companies collecting data on computer users will be required by US (or EU) law to give snoopies (er, snoopees!) access to the snooped data – much like the regulations we have now with credit reporting agencies.

    Bisson’s analysis should give you Win10 customers some solace. It doesn’t completely exonerate Microsoft, but it puts the problem in some much-needed perspective.