August 5, 2015 by

Open-Source App to Disable Windows 10 Tracking Features

Windows 10, Microsoft’s latest upgrade to its flagship operating system comes bundled with telemetry and tracking services enabled by default. A new open-source application is now available to stop all telemetry and tracking services used by Windows 10.

Within the space of a week since its launch, Windows 10 has been a rousing success. With positive reviews written setting the pace for the operating system pre-launch and enormous demand, Windows 10 was downloaded a staggering 14 million times within the first 24 hours of its launch. Microsoft’s decision to offer Windows 10 as a free upgrade for users of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 within the first year of its launch has been welcomed by hundreds of millions of Windows users worldwide.

However, the launch of the latest version of Microsoft’s massively popular operating system isn’t without controversy. It was to be expected. Months ahead of the launch, industry rumors were rife that Windows 10 is constantly collecting users’ data, sharing Wi-Fi passwords to contacts (albeit with encryption) and collects data & usage patterns exhibited by the Windows user.

After launch, the biggest criticism of all was the constricted setup process which did not offer many choices in granular options. It was also clear that user data would be sent back to Microsoft, by default.  While many tracking features can be disabled manually for better user privacy, novice users will prefer a new open-source application that claims to preserve one’s privacy and disable tracking features with a single click.

“In my opinion, there is some unnecessary fear surrounding Windows 10, but beneath all of that I do believe lots of fear is justified,” said Syed Qazi, the app’s developer.

A quick open-sourced fix

Reddit user Qazi aka 10se1ucgo has developed an application titled ‘Disable Windows 10 Tracking’ – which he claims disables the multiple tracking services in Windows 10. He also adds that the registry is tweaked in order to further block other processes from trying to track a user’s activities.

“The program is meant for inexperienced users who don’t want to have to fiddle with the registry and don’t want to take the chance of messing up something. And no, most of it can’t be disabled in the built-in menus, there are still some ‘hidden’ ones,” he noted.

The application makes certain changes including:

  • Disabling Telemetry services.
  • Disabling tracking services.
  • Disabling logging that is enabled by certain trackers after clearing it.
  • Blocking tracking servers by editing the host file.

Qazi plans on adding many more features to the application with the aim to disable all tracking features within the operating system. It’s a small start, but the application has already seen a dozen changes in its development cycle within the last two days alone and there are a lot of takers for the application.

The entire code is available for inspection on GitHub. Microsoft hasn’t commented on the application yet.

As a disclaimer, it goes without saying that users are reminded to use any external applications or programs at their own risk.

 

About the author

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LIFARS is the global leader in Digital Forensics and Cyber Resiliency Services. Our experience spans two decades working on high profile events, often in concert with Law Enforcement Agencies around the world. Our proprietary methodology derives directly and indirectly from our experience working with and for U.S. Intelligence Agencies, Interpol, Europol, and NATO. We are solely dedicated to Cyber Resiliency and thus pay close attention to all aspects of our clients’ engagements experience while providing a strategic and integrated array of services to minimum risk and disruption while protecting your brand.

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