Windows 10 and Wi-Fi Share
According to an article on Krebs on Security ( http://krebsonsecurity.com/2015/07/windows-10-shares-your-wi-fi-with-contacts/ ) Windows 10, Microsoft’s new operating system (OS), will share your wi-fi password with your contacts in Outlook, Skype, and Facebook. It seems like you can tell the Windows install process not to do this, but it involves changing the default install options AND the name of your wireless network. With this “feature” your wi-fi password ends up stored on Microsoft servers. Yes, it’s encrypted, but I don’t have the warm and fuzzies about this.
“Windows 10 – Insecure by Default!”
After reading the article, I felt less and less happy about the whole situation. There are lots of links to follow and for anyone considering the upgrade, take a look at the article. Some of the suggested “fixes” are absurd and get absurder still when you add in Google’s wi-fi sharing schemes.
Apparently we should all change our wireless network names to “GetOutAndStayOut_optout_nomap”
The comments to Krebs’s post are enough to make you run away screaming, either because of commenters who understand just how horrible this this or the commenters who don’t. Take your pick.
I’m trying to figure out why anyone would think sharing wi-fi passwords withYOU’RE YOUR contacts is a good idea.
Show of hands. How many of your Facebook “friends” are people or relatives you can’t stand but have to tolerate? And sure, your future ex significant other is super nice and would never do anything Revenge Porny. Am I right?
Let me Make Your Day Better
[An NSA hacking tool] also has another capability: to create invisible storage space on the hard drive to hide data stolen from the system so the attackers can retrieve it later. This lets spies . . . bypass disk encryption by secreting documents they want to seize in areas that don’t get encrypted. http://www.wired.com/2015/02/nsa-firmware-hacking/
Does wearing a tinfoil hat keep your info out of Microsoft’s – and everyone else’s – grubby paws? Or should we just give up now and accept the continued slide into hell?
Thought the security features stunk when first reading about them. This takes it to a whole new level of reek. Sorry won’t be upgrading to Windows 10 anytime soon.
I’m a little confused. The article says explicitly that it does *not* share your actual password, but uses an encrypted version of your password. And obviously your contacts have to be within range of your wifi in order to use it, so presumably it’s an alternative to giving them your actual, unencrypted password and having that stored in their wifi settings. It’s apparently been brought over from the business-grade version of Windows (where it does not seem to have led to rampant abuse). The ZDNet article the author links to has a better explanation of the actual process.
I installed Windows 10 last week and I have WiFi sense turned off. If you don’t turn it off at install, you always have the option to turn it off in the settings panel. I’ve also used Windows Phones off and on, including since 8/8.1 was introduced, and I’ve kept WiFi Sense off on all of them. It’s one click. The first time I saw it as an option I didn’t know what it was, googled it, and decided I didn’t want to use it.
It’s also worth noting that even though WiFi sense is opt-out, sharing each contact list and each network is an individual opt-in. If you do mindlessly check “yes” every time you are asked a question in your settings, then you will enable all networks and all contact lists. But that’s the only way it’s automatic.
For what it’s worth, if you opt-in to WiFi sharing on OSX (yes, it’s an option and has been since at least Snow Leopard), the default is that it is open (not password-protected). This has been around for years, and not just for WiFi sharing. I remember a time in my office years ago, when people didn’t realize that iTunes was configured to have a default “sharing” setting. We could all see each other’s iTunes directories and listen to each other’s songs if we hadn’t opted out. It made for some embarrassing revelations, although I will never apologize for having “Holding Out For A Hero” and the soundtrack to Priscilla, Queen of the Desert on my Most Played list. ;)
Thank you the warning. We’re changing our wifi network names now.
@Sunita: The comments to the article go fairly in depth into why this scheme is such a huge problem. The problem isn’t the encryption but the the sharing by default and the fact that the way to not share includes changing the SSID of your wireless network. It’s not enough to do an install that doesn’t turn on the sharing. You must ALSO change your SSID to include the opt-out text. The issue becomes how trivial it would be for a bad actor to gain access. Several of the comments set out how this becomes quite easy under this scheme.
My time in the tech community has shown me time and again that there are a lot of users who do, in fact, click YES and don’t understand how to take security measures — and not because they’re willfully ignorant, though some are. The tech community does not make it easy to understand and set up these measures.
@IAMJSON: I read the comments. They seem to be pretty evenly split (in terms of people who appear to know what they are talking about) between those who think it is a terrible system and those who think the concerns are overblown.
My understanding is that you don’t need to change the SSID *unless* you are concerned that there are people who log on to your network (using the usual password method) who will leave their machine’s WiFi Sense option on (not the people in your contacts group, because friends-of-friends don’t gain access). In that case you should change the SSID to add _optout, definitely. If you have people to whom you give your password who you can’t count on to follow directions to click “no” on the share option, then I can see how this would be a bigger deal. For me, where there are only two people who use Windows machines, let alone Windows 10, it doesn’t seem necessary. If I’m wrong about this, I’d absolutely appreciate knowing where I’m erring.
I agree that this should have been opt-in rather than opt-out, and they should NOT have blanket contacts permission. I’d be surprised if at least the former feature isn’t changed down the line. Changing how to enable contacts to have permission may be more complicated.
I’m a little confused here. I’ve upgraded to Windows 10 on both a desktop and a laptop. I turned off all the sharing settings in the install, but I’ve not even found a link ANYWHERE in Windows 10 for Wi-Fi Sense. I’ve looked in all the advised places. I’ve done searches for it. And it’s no where on either of my machines. I’m wondering if this is something that is specific to the tablet installations of 10 rather than the desktop/laptop installations.
If anyone else has an idea where to look for it, I’d appreciate a heads up.
@MB: On my Windows tablet (Dell 8-inch Venue Pro, I think?), I did the following:
1. Swipe from right for Action Center, tap on “All Settings”
2. In Settings, tap on “Network and Internet” (top row in the middle)
3. At the bottom of Wi-Fi listings, tap on “Manage Wi-Fi settings” (just under Advanced Options)
4. Turn “Connect to networks shared by my contacts” OFF (slider moves to left).
I also chose to turn Wi-Fi sense off in install, so it was already off. When I slid it to ON, it showed the 3 default contact lists, which I would have to click the box for in each case to enable them.
So sharing your contacts is a 2-step process: first you have to move the sharing slider to ON, then you have to enable the contact groups.
Hope that helps!
@Sunita: While I can pretty easily follow instructions like this, I know quite a few people who wouldn’t be able to and would end up confused and frustrated. While the comments on ZDNet are split, the fact that they are commenting on a tech blog means they probably have a passing knowledge of how these things work. Sharing, especially something that is password protected, should always be an opt-in feature with clear choices of who you want to share with.