Surface Tablet Security

A Canadian security specialist, Nadim Kobeissi, voiced his concerns this week on Surface Tablet Security concerns — in particular Windows 8 SmartScreen technology. The Windows 8 Tablets will contain filter technology, which is designed to warn users about downloading malicious software. The SmartScreen technology sends data to the company about each application that is installed on the Microsoft Surface tablet, by default. Kobeissi alleges, “This is a very serious privacy problem,” Microsoft will be collecting data from its users and retaining the data. While many users may trust the company to safeguard this data Kobeissi asserts, “It may be possible to intercept SmartScreen’s communications to Microsoft and thus learn about every single application downloaded and installed by a target.”

You can turn off the option but this will result in prompts to re-enable it from the Surface Tablet Security Center. Microsoft Surface tablet users can also turn off the SmartScreen during setup but they are not informed of any intrusion into privacy. Kobeissi stresses, “This puts Microsoft in a compromising, omniscient situation where they are capable of retaining information on the application usage of all Windows 8 users, thus posing a serious privacy concern.”

When asked to share his views on the matter, Rafael Rivera, Microsoft software reverse engineer offered his expert opinion. “So can Microsoft track everything you download and use? No! However, the data transmitted includes an FName element which is encrypted using Base 64 — something that’s easily decodable using online tools.”

Authors note: Any user of any Web enabled (mobile) device with concerns about security may want to look into VPNs or Virtual Private Networks. These networks use more sophisticated encryption codes; some use the same codes governments use to encrypt their data. Additionally, the data will be safe on unsecured WI-Fi hot spots.