Microsoft Describes Windows 8 Privacy Concerns As A Non-Issue

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Unencrypted data in Windows 8 is nothing worry about, so don’t worry.

Social network data being stored unprotected in Windows 8? Sounds dangerous, but Microsoft says don’t worry

A security hole in Windows 8 found that data relating to social networks Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Hotmail, Gmail and Exchange is being stored unencrypted (i.e., not protected) in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. The data stored relates to the contacts, which isn’t great for people who have loads of friends of followers.

The cache persist even when the user is logged off, so anyone can sign into the account as an administrator and see the contact data. That includes names, e-mail handles, phone numbers, pictures and addresses.

Michael Cherry, lead analyst, operating systems at the analysis firm Directions of Microsoft, didn’t doubt the findings but said there’s no reason to worry. He reiterated that this is a beta, and as such isn’t final (easy to forget sometimes when much of the OS works). Cherry said this is the kind of information they’re looking for, so there’s no reason to believe this won’t be fixed.

Caching improves performance, others share data

Cherry also said the responsibility doesn’t lie with just Microsoft, but social networks. The latter are continually encouraging users to share information, giving them less control over privacy. The only way for users to not share information is to note share the social networks, and that’s something most users don’t want to do when communicating with friends over social networks is often essential.

He also cited Apple, whose users share information in the iCloud. iCloud allows users to set up devices without having to plug in to a laptop or desktop, as information is downloaded. Cachine the data in Windows 8 improves performance.

Mark Baldwin, principal researcher and consultant at InfosecStuff, said the risk is no greater in Windows 8 than it was in its predecessor. Windows 7 didn’t have the social network integration Windows 8 has, but caching data does improve performance, he said. A person aside from the users needs to have admin rights, so it’s not as easy as just logging in. As Baldwin said, someone having admin rights who you didn’t authorize means there are deeper problems that Facebook or Twitter sharing.

Windows 8 releases this year.

Published: Tuesday, May 8th, 2012 Last Modified: May 8, 2012

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