Since the launch of ‘free to most’ Windows 10, the world’s digital security community has been outraged. Microsoft’s 20,000-word software license agreement enforces a terrifyingly invasive mouse-click, informing users of ‘built-in’ features that the average person likely will never realize they agreed to. Inclusions that, unfortunately, make Windows 10 seem like the dystopian surveillance musings of Philip K Dick during one of his well known, and intense, paranoia outbreaks.
On its release at the end of last month, eager tech heads everywhere began to install the hotly anticipated new Windows. Upgradable and stable, it is certainly a feature filled installment in the Microsoft series, and as we have learned, one of the most sophisticated surveillance tools on the globe. Sadly, reports rapidly began to emerge about the extent of the system’s capabilities, and the excitement to get Windows 10 onto the PC became somewhat of a rush to get it off.
Now, adding to the woes for the new operating system, torrent trackers have banned Windows 10 users’ from having access to the pirated material that so many people crave. A move that proves that despite Windows’ strong market placement and continued popularity, it is not untouchable.
One part of the terms of service, in particular, is the culprit. In it Microsoft explains that Windows 10 is permitted to download software updates and configuration changes that may prevent people from ‘playing counterfeit games.’
Although the new terms have got tracker staff worried, in reality there is little proof that Microsoft is actually planning to enact a so-called ‘piracy kill switch’, and it is highly unlikely that it would ever choose to enforce the protocol on third party products.
Having said that, a few torrent trackers have made the decision to alienate Windows 10, private tracker iS, for example, has said,
‘Since last Thursday windows 10 is officially banned from iS. Members using it get redirected to a video that explains the dangers quite in detail hoping to enlighten as many people as possible. Perhaps at some point special versions of Windows 10 will surface that would successfully wipe all those outrageous privacy violations but until then Windows 10 is not welcome here in the interest of this site and all iS members.’
The primary reason for the lack of faith emanating from trackers can be pinpointed to cooperation between Microsoft and various third party firms. One of those is MarkMonitor, a brand protection firm that is also involved in the U.S. Copyright Alert System. The staff at iTS have commented that,
‘Unfortunately Microsoft decided to revoke any kind of data protection and submit whatever they can gather to not only themselves but also others. One of those is one of the largest anti-piracy company called MarkMonitor.’
This all sounds pretty legitimate at first. Dig a little deeper, however, and you soon discover that Microsoft has been working with MarkMonitor for some years. In particular the firm helps Microsoft to deal efficiently with scammers,
‘Microsoft is committed to increasing consumer confidence in safely using the Internet for commerce and communications. As part of this effort, we’re working with MarkMonitor, a proven anti-phishing technology provider, to help protect our customers, MarkMonitor is a recognized leader in monitoring and detecting phishing and other online identity fraud, and this relationship allows us to learn from MarkMonitor’s valuable fraud data and thereby help enhance the protection our technologies can provide for our customers.’ Said John Scarrow from Microsoft Technology Care and Safety Group.
Considering the evidence of the nature of the relationship, and the lack of anti-piracy therein, BB have also expressed concern at the revelation that MarkMonitor are involved,
‘We have also found [Windows 10] will be gathering information on users’ P2P use to be shared with anti-piracy group, what’s particularly nasty is that apparently it sends the results of local(!!) searches to a well known anti-piracy company directly so as soon as you have one known p2p or scene release on your local disk … BAM!’
The truth is that MarkMonitor’s relationship with Microsoft is no small reason for conscientious tracker staff to get spooked. These guys deal with and manage Torrent communities, and they would be showing incredible signs of weakness to not be affected by the knowledge. Piracy is illegal , and it is for that reason that good opsec is always recommended for you here at best VPN, where obfuscating IPs is a way of life.
For now the bad press will continue, and rightly so. Cortana listening in while you make love to your wife or discuss your new business idea with your brother is wrong. However, with a free upgrade only permitted for a year, I imagine most people will be making the move to the new OS at one time or another.
Sadly, in a world where a loss of privacy is normalized in exchange for functionality and seamless life integration, most of the bad press is hot air. After all, nearly all the competition is doing the same as Microsoft, so the firm is not anymore at fault for being at the forefront of business models and practices, than any of the rest.
If you are interested in Windows 10 but want to avoid being snooped on by Microsoft, you can follow some guides my quick guide here.