Feeds

Windows Update keeps tabs on all system software

Spy on the wire

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

Evidence obtained by German hardware site tecChannel suggests a list of software installed on an XP machine is sent to Microsoft when users run Windows Update.

When patches are downloaded, a few kilobytes of data are sent in the opposite direction over a secure SSL channel.

Because the data is encrypted a simple packet sniffer can't be used to see what this data contains.

However tecChannel's tecDUMP utility takes advantage of an undocumented WinInet API, enabling an examination of the data before it becomes encrypted.

According to tecChannel, the information sent to Microsoft includes details of all the software installed in a machine, not only Microsoft applications.

The latest version of Windows Update Privacy Statement (which dates from last October) states: "Windows Update must collect a certain amount of configuration information from your computer".

This configuration information includes OS version number, IE version number and "version numbers of other software for which Windows Update provides updates" along with plug and play ID numbers and regional settings.

But there's no mention of collecting data on software from other vendors running on a machine. And this software can't be updated using Windows Update. So why is Microsoft collecting this data?

One for the conspiracy theorists ... ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed
Nadella's database sqares the circle of cheap memory vs speed
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
IRS boss on XP migration: 'Classic fix the airplane while you're flying it attempt'
Plus: Condoleezza Rice at Dropbox 'maybe she can find ... weapons of mass destruction'
Ditch the sync, paddle in the Streem: Upstart offers syncless sharing
Upload, delete and carry on sharing afterwards?
Microsoft TIER SMEAR changes app prices whether devs ask or not
Some go up, some go down, Redmond goes silent
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.