MIcrosoft and Windows 8 Sharing YOUR information?

24 08 2012

As a company that writes software that holds the important data of numerous businesses, safety is a must. Since our software is run on PC’s, we are always on the lookout for anything that will threaten a computer’s security. With all the talk of companies sharing too much information, it was interesting to come across this next piece of information about Microsoft and Windows 8.

Here in the office I use a Windows XP operating system but at home I run WIndows 8, and I must say from the very start I was awfully impressed with its speed and functionality. The only issue is this one feature they have implemented. It is supposed to be helpful and safe, but it leaves behind a lot of holes in security!

So this new feature is called Windows Smart Screen, which by default is on. Its purpose is to filter every application you try to download from the internet to see whether it is safe or not. Let’s say you want to download a game, so you click the download button and the installer is opened. Here, Windows Smart Screen gathers information about the application and sends the data to Microsoft. If they reply saying the application isn’t signed with the proper certificate, the user gets an error that tries to stop them from completing the download.

That sounds all fine and dandy, right? Hey Microsoft is looking out for me! They’re trying to make sure I don’t download an app with a malicious virus attached, right? Maybe. The biggest problem is that Windows 8 is set up to IMMEDIATELY tell Microsoft about every application you download. Does this strike you as a privacy problem? Because it should! So now Microsoft has all this information about your downloads. They then become a prime candidate for being subpoenaed or receiving National Security Letters that are intended to monitor targeted users. So now, given the right legal documentation, someone can request to see all of your downloads in the past year. Even if you have nothing to hide, that’s still a huge invasion!

But wait, it gets worse! It may even be possible to intercept SmartScreen’s communications and learn about what each individual is downloading! Angry coworker, neighbor, boss, family member? All you need is one unpleasant person from someone’s past to get a little tech savvy and this person’s sensitive data could be compromised! One more fun little fact; the server is configured to support SSLV2. This is KNOWN TO BE INSECURE! In the past it has been susceptible to interception, so that’s what we are trusting our personal information with!

Interesting, right? So now let’s get to fixing the problem. 1. Open the control panel and select the System & Security link. 2.Select Action Center 3. Expand the security list and scroll down, looking for the Windows SmartScreen option. 4. Click the Change Settings link. 5. Change the radio button from the default option to the bottom option. NOW you’re ready to go!

There are many lessons to learn from in this day and age, one of which being “Don’t trust all default settings!” At Advantec, we are always looking for ways to improve our software and its security. For clients in important businesses, we want to provide the safest and most reliable software we possibly can!

For more information about Windows SmartScreen, see this link for a simple FAQ. If you want some more information on Advantec’s security, visit!



6 responses

25 08 2012

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