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article imageMicrosoft now sharing Windows 10 telemetry data with third party

By James Walker     Nov 24, 2016 in Technology
Microsoft has begun to share telemetry data collected from computers running Windows 10 with a third-party company, according to reports today. Security firm FireEye will have access to data from "every" Windows 10 device as part of a new partnership.
The policy change was reported by Australian news site ARN yesterday. Microsoft and FireEye recently agreed to embark on a new joint effort to improve the security of Windows 10. Microsoft will integrate FireEye's iSIGHT intelligent monitoring software into Windows Defender, the free anti-malware app that comes baked into Windows.
It appears as though there's more to the deal than the two are talking about publicly though. FireEye will also get access to the wealth of Windows 10 telemetry data being created by the hundreds of millions of machines running the OS. Microsoft has agreed to give the firm the keys to data from "every" device running Windows 10, including PCs, tablets and smartphones.
Windows 10 is known to do a lot of phoning home, something Microsoft has been widely criticised for since the platform's 2015 release. Microsoft doesn't report exactly what it collects from users' machines.
According to the company, the data is used to improve Windows and assess how people use the software. Recently, it outlined how telemetry from Microsoft Edge revealed many users accidentally trigger the browser's development mode. As a consequence, it will be burying the relevant menus in a future release.
Microsoft is keen to stress that the telemetry it collects benefits users. It insists everything is stored confidentially in a non-identifiable manner. However, it has previously admitted that it does take personal information from computers. It said that personal information is "seldom taken," implying that it occasionally is. The company did not specify what is uploaded, where it's stored or why it's required.
Similar unknowns remain around the deal with FireEye. It's the first time Microsoft has agreed to share its telemetry data with a third-party company. Some users could be concerned that it's setting a precedent for the future. Microsoft has practically said as much already. According to ARN, FireEye is accessing the data "via a subscription billing model," thereby suggesting the resources are already available to other interested parties.
Neither Microsoft or FireEye have explained why the data is being shared or what it will be used for. It remains unclarified whether the entire system's telemetry will be available or just logs from Windows Defender. Microsoft has not commented on the deal. FireEye sent a generic statement to ARN suggesting it will benefit Windows 10's overall security.
"FireEye has invested in nation-state grade intelligence and we are strategically partnering with industry leaders to operationalize this high-quality intel," said Ken Gonzalez, senior vice president of FireEye corporate development.
More about Microsoft, windows 10, Windows, Privacy, telemetry
 
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