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Researcher Raises Alarm Over Windows 8's SmartScreen Filter

  1. #1


    Posts : 22,581
    64-bit Windows 10

    Researcher Raises Alarm Over Windows 8's SmartScreen Filter


    Windows 8, for those of you who don’t know, relies on something called SmartScreen Application Reputation to identify and warn users of potentially dangerous desktop apps. According to Microsoft, the operating system uses SmartScreen, which was previously restricted to Internet Explorer, to conduct “an application reputation check the first time you launch applications that come from the Internet.” With SmartScreen providing an additional layer of security to Windows 8 users, they will have a lot less to worry about, right? Wrong, according to Canadian security researcher Nadim Kobeissi, who has a serious issue with the way the feature works.
    Read more at:
    Maximum PC | Researcher Raises Alarm Over Windows 8's SmartScreen Filter


    See also:
    Windows SmartScreen - Turn On or Off in Windows 8

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #2


    Thanks, Brink.

    Very touchy subject indeed.

    I don't know about anyone else, but I was never asked to give M$ permission to store what apps I install, unless there was some fine print in the agreement I never read. Sometimes I'll glance over the titles of paragraghs and if I find something that catches my eye I'll read that, but I don't read the whole thing.

    Whenever I see the Patriot Act mentioned a big red flag pops up. Here's a link to these so called National Security Letters.

    National security letter - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    I can understand a judicial subpoenas where authorities have to go in front of a judge, show probable cause, and then do the hunt if the judge ok's it. But the letters, I think, gives someone without proper credentials too much power.

    Very touchy subject indeed. I'll be lQQking into it further for sure.

    On the other hand, if one is doing nothing wrong, one needn't worry. But, they need my permission -> First and foremost.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #3


    Orbiting the Moon
    Posts : 2,975
    Windows 10 x64


    Quote Originally Posted by HippsieGypsie View Post
    On the other hand, if one is doing nothing wrong, one needn't worry.
    I agree.

    I don't see that of a big deal with the Smartscreen. It's their right to put it in their OS as long as the privacy laws are respected.
    As you've probably seen each new OS release has more security features implemented than a previous release.

    As I see in that article, just a few hackers complained for now, Compare Win8 with XP: XP gave complete freedom to the user, it was a "good" OS: viruses were also in full freedom tested! But users fear Smartscreen for some other hidden (spying?) capabilities, you never know.

    And then it's obvious... if you don't have anything better to do than crack an app, then you're in trouble because it's monitored.

    We'll see where this story is going...
    Pretty interesting.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #4


    Posts : 187
    Windows 8 64 bit

    SmartScreen - How Microsoft spies on it's users


    I found this interesting article and I'm concerned about this. What do our resident experts have to say?

    Windows 8 Tells Microsoft About Everything You Install, Not Very Securely


    I'll post a few snippets from the article:

    Windows 8 has a new featured called Windows SmartScreen, which is turned on by default. Windows SmartScreen's purpose is to "screen" every single application you try to install from the Internet in order to inform you whether it's safe to proceed with installing it or not.

    There are a few serious problems here. The big problem is that Windows 8 is configured to immediately tell Microsoft about every app you download and install. This is a very serious privacy problem, specifically because Microsoft is the central point of authority and data collection/retention here and therefore becomes vulnerable to being served judicial subpoenas or National Security Letters intended to monitor targeted users. This situation is exacerbated when Windows 8 is deployed in countries experiencing political turmoil or repressive political situations.
    This problem can however get even more serious: It may be possible to intercept SmartScreen's communications to Microsoft and thus learn about every single application downloaded and installed by a target.

    Update: According to Microsoft, SmartScreen sends a hash of the app installer and its digital signature, if any. A combination of the hash and the user's IP address is still enough to identify that IP address x attempted to install software y.
    Update 2: Another researcher has discovered that a filename of the app you're trying to install is indeed sent to Microsoft. This severely strengthens privacy concerns.
    Update 3: Approximately 14 hours after this article was published, another scan of Microsoft's SmartScreen servers reveals that they have been reconfigured to no longer support SSLv2. The servers now only support SSLv3 connections.

    Furthermore, SmartScreen is not easy to disable, and Windows will periodically warn users to re-enable it should they attempt to disable it.
    See the link above for an analysis of how SmartScreens communications can be intercepted.

    This will be one service I will find out how to permanently disable.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #5


    Posts : 5,707
    Windows 8.1 Pro


    This isn't anything to really worry about.

    If you REALLY want to worry about something, every time you or Windows checks for updates, the system sends info to Microsoft details about your PC and I believe your location and IP address as well....

    But then again, I'm not too concerned about SmartScreen. All it does is send data about every program that is downloaded and installed to check if it doesn't raise any security concerns. I imagine that only happens if SmartScreen comes up and says it is unable to verify the file. If so, data is sent to Microsoft so they can check it out and add it to SmartScreen's whitelist of applications or the blacklist if they find issues with it. Even then, it's not like a serious issue. It's not like Microsoft will either a) break into your house at night and punch you squarely in the face or b) snuff you out in your sleep. And it's not like if someone does figure out in the very few and spare in between opportunities that SmartScreen does send data over the network that they not very likely to a) break into your house at night and punch you squarely in the face or b) snuff you out in your sleep or c) knock you unconscious and surprise adopt you and take you to a totally different place in the world and you wake up in a totally different house, apartment, or village and you wake up and say, "What. The. Flock."

    That's just me.
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  6. #6


    Bay Area
    Posts : 21,840
    Windows 7 Home Premium x64


    Microsoft denies Windows 8 app spying via SmartScreen

    Microsoft denies Windows 8 app spying via SmartScreen ? The Register

    Windows 8 privacy complaint misses the forest for the trees

    Windows 8 privacy complaint misses the forest for the trees | Ars Technica

    A Guy
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #7


    Thanks for the leads on the articles, Bill. Saves me time scouring the Inet for this info.

    Quote Originally Posted by Coke Robot View Post
    This isn't anything to really worry about.

    If you REALLY want to worry about something, every time you or Windows checks for updates, the system sends info to Microsoft details about your PC and I believe your location and IP address as well....

    But then again, I'm not too concerned about SmartScreen. All it does is send data about every program that is downloaded and installed to check if it doesn't raise any security concerns. I imagine that only happens if SmartScreen comes up and says it is unable to verify the file. If so, data is sent to Microsoft so they can check it out and add it to SmartScreen's whitelist of applications or the blacklist if they find issues with it. Even then, it's not like a serious issue. It's not like Microsoft will either a) break into your house at night and punch you squarely in the face or b) snuff you out in your sleep. And it's not like if someone does figure out in the very few and spare in between opportunities that SmartScreen does send data over the network that they not very likely to a) break into your house at night and punch you squarely in the face or b) snuff you out in your sleep or c) knock you unconscious and surprise adopt you and take you to a totally different place in the world and you wake up in a totally different house, apartment, or village and you wake up and say, "What. The. Flock."

    That's just me.
    I agree, Cokie. Bottom line is I really don't care if M$ wants to store whatever apps or programs are installed on my rig for I'm not hiding anything. But we must take caution on this sort of thing. I'm glad this Nadim Kobeissi fellow and followup article authors made us aware of this issue. Quite honestly I'm not that savvy, nor do I think most people are to decpher this sort of thing.

    I'm aware that we can't get into politcal discussions here, for it's against forum rules. All I'll say is that I'm not in agreement what's been legislated in this country as of late. I belive rights are being compromised.

    So far as the topic is concerned, all I'm saying is that one should always have a choice of what is being downloaded, uploaded, (sideloaded ), or recorded on anyone's server and for what purpose. Presenly I think M$ has good intent here and according to the articles, it remains that we have a choice whether or not to use SmartScreen. I'm not going to live in the fear as you decribed either. We must needs be aware of such issues, for if we settle for no choice, what's to follow?

    I'll be lQQking into your beginning statement for sure.
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  8. #8


    Orbiting the Moon
    Posts : 2,975
    Windows 10 x64


    I'm glad this Nadim Kobeissi fellow and followup article authors made us aware of this issue.
    Yes that's right. Now we now something more about smartscreen.

    That smartscreen is a bit annoying for me because even Chromium as a browser is a suspect. That popup appeared on my pc on version 23.0.1237.0 (151858).
    Well I always used custom Chromium Developper Build because it's a few versions higher than the Google Chrome built for John Doe and everyone else. I do some web developpment for school and the newest browsers come in handy.

    Of course, that Chromium doesn't have a signature, for a nightly build, and it's a bit risky to use they say, but I like to manage this one by myself.

    But keep in mind that ,by spying or not, some apps blocked by smartscreen can really be dangerous. It's up to you to decide if you want smartscreen in or out.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  9. #9


    But keep in mind that ,by spying or not, some apps blocked by smartscreen can really be dangerous. It's up to you to decide if you want smartscreen in or out.
    Thanks, Hopachi.

    I've decided to stick with SmartScreen for now. We'll keep an eye on this and see what happens...........
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  10. #10


    Orbiting the Moon
    Posts : 2,975
    Windows 10 x64


    Quote Originally Posted by HippsieGypsie View Post
    But keep in mind that ,by spying or not, some apps blocked by smartscreen can really be dangerous. It's up to you to decide if you want smartscreen in or out.
    Thanks, Hopachi.

    I've decided to stick with SmartScreen for now. We'll keep an eye on this and see what happens...........
    Good idea, thanks.

    We'll keep an eye on it and also see what other online articles will say about it.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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Researcher Raises Alarm Over Windows 8's SmartScreen Filter
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