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Windows 10's secret tracking is worse than we thought

Windows 10's secret tracking is worse than we thought
PHOTO COURTESY OF SHUTTERSTOCK

If you've been following the news surrounding Windows 10, you know it's a great operating system that has some big worries around privacy and control. For example, the personal assistant Cortana stores as much information about you as it can, and Windows 10 automatically installs updates and doesn't tell you what's in them.

Microsoft has put in ways to turn off some of the most worrying features, and it's making a few changes toward transparency. It's now listing what changes are in updates, for example. However, things are still a little complicated with users' other big worry: tracking.

Microsoft recently released some statistics that show it's tracking more than we thought. However, an online user with the username CheesusCrust is claiming it's even worse than that. This user posted a detailed study that claims Windows 10 tried to contact Microsoft 5,500 times to 51 IP addresses in just 8 hours. In the next 21 hours, Windows also tried to contact 113 non-private IP addresses. That's with a clean Windows installation with every tracking setting turned off.

CheesusCrust then tried the test again with a clean installation of Windows 10 with all the tracking settings off, and a third-party anti-tracking tool installed. Windows 10 still allegedly tried to send data 2,758 times to 30 IP addresses in 30 hours.

Microsoft has said in the past that a lot of this tracking it related to how Windows is performing, not personal user information. For example, it wants to know about crash reports, program slowdowns and other potentially problematic events so it can improve Windows in the future.

Microsoft also acknowledges there's a balance between tracking and stability that it needs to find. However, it also refused to talk to reporters about the CheesusCrust report beyond saying that it isn't able to comment.

Now, there is some heavy debate about the report online, with claims that a lot of the tracking wasn't from Windows itself. The original report has actually been taken down, so perhaps CheesusCrust is rechecking the data and there will be an update soon.

It's worth pointing out that tracking is becoming a fact of life with technology. To do many of the cool advanced things that make you say "wow," like automatically telling you how much traffic is between you and home, companies need a lot of information.

You can expect more stories like this to come out as researchers dig deeper into some of the latest programs and services out there. Of course, there are always alternatives. There are operating systems that don't track you like Windows, Apple or Google, and online sites that keep your privacy. You just need to decide if the added privacy outweighs other factors like convenience, compatibility and familiarity.

Source: Forbes
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