Saturday, June 15, 2024

It's time to opt out of Windows Recall

Holy cow, what a nightmare:

Microsoft is not giving up on its controversial Windows Recall, though says it will give customers an option to opt in instead of having it on by default, and will beef up the security of any data the software stores.

Recall, for those who missed the dumpster fire, was announced on May 20 as a "feature" on forthcoming Copilot+ Windows PCs. It takes a snapshot of whatever is on the user's screen every few seconds. These images are stored on-device and analyzed locally by an AI model, using OCR to extract text from the screen, to make past work searchable and more accessible.

The ultimate goal for Recall is to record nearly everything the user does on their Windows PC, including conversations and app usage, as well as screenshots, and present that archive in a way that allows the user to remind themselves what they were doing at some point in the past and pull up relevant files and web pages to interact with again. The archive can be searched using text, or the user can drag a control along a timeline bar to recall activities.

But security testers have raised doubts about the safety of recorded information and have developed tools that can extract these snapshots and whatever sensitive information they contain. The data is for now stored as an easy to access non-encrypted SQLite database in the local file system.

"Dumpster fire" doesn't even begin to describe it.  It's easy to imagine all sorts of ways that this would violate laws (e.g. storing healthcare PII unencrypted is a HIPAA violation).

Never mind what sort of reindeer games hackers might get up to - after all, Windows has historically been so difficult for viruses and malware to invade, amirite? 

If you're still using Windows, you should configure it to opt out of Recall.  Or upgrade to Linux.  All the cool kids are.


The Lab Manager said...

I do like Linux Mint.

It's frustrating though software vendors like Intuit and others won't offer a Linux version even for some reasonably higher price than a Windows product.

This is some really creepy crap on the part of MS though.

Mind your own business said...

Is this just Windows 11? The one they keep trying to convince me to switch to?

Rick C said...

It's only new Copilot+ PCs, which are all ARM laptops.

Malatrope said...

I switched to Linux Lite awhile back, and although I thought I would have to keep booting Windows for things, that hasn't turned out to be the case. Very pleased to tell Bill Gates to suck it, I'm not going back except to run Turbotax (no Linux version...come on, guys) and a copy of Autodesk Inventor that won't run on anything except Window 8.1 that I use for 3D modeling.

Plus, Linux has better apps that are free. Windows is old news, man.

jabrwok said...

I'd like to switch to Linux, but I don't even know where to begin. My programming skills begin and end with very out-of-date HTML. Anyone know of a good step-by-step tutorial for how to install Linux and then how to actually *use* it? Ideally also how to transfer all my files from my current Win10 machine to the new OS?

Ken said...

Linux + WINE looks better and better....

JMcMurray said...

Was it in the original Patriot Act or in the double secret addendum? This is clearly a US government plan to harvest everything.
Get a typewriter and copier. Samizdat don't use MS.