Windows 10 and Wifi Sense

Windows 10 and Wifi Sense

Windows 10 has a lot of additional features over previous versions and most are safe enough, but a few stand out as being a little dangerous. Wifi Sense is one of those because it doesn't clearly explain the ramifications of setting it to the end user. Microsoft describe Wifi Sense as "WiFi Sense automatically connects you to WiFi, so that you can get online quickly in more places. It can connect you to open WiFi hotspots it knows about via crowdsourcing, or to WiFi networks your contacts have shared with you by using WiFi Sense."

Sounds great! if your out and about your laptop or phone will automatically connect to wifi that has been shared by 'crowdsourcing' without even telling you. So why is that bad? 

Well its bad on many levels, and I'm going to try and be as non-technical as possible here so as to benefit as many readers as possible....

  • Firstly, automatically connecting to anything is bad except for your trusted wifi in your home and/or office. This is because malicious individuals could setup a wifi hotspot, leave it without WEP or WPA (i.e. no password needed) and then wait for unsuspecting people to connect to it at which point a crafted attack is performed at your device. If passwords are being shared between these hotspots and many microsoft devices then everyone who passes is at risk. You should always be careful when connecting to wifi especially from a Windows Phone or Computer. 
  • Wifi Passwords are there for a reason; to limit access to the wifi network to those who know the password. Wifi Sense, as described by Microsoft will "Automatically connect you to WiFi networks that your Facebook friends, Outlook.com contacts or Skype contacts have shared with you after you've shared at least one network with your contacts.". So, that means that if, by chance you have not disabled "Share network with my contacts" which is found in Settings > Network & Internet > WiFi > Manage WiFi settings, then your home and office wifi passwords are shared with all your facebook friends and contacts. That is bad for so many reasons, but here's a few; Firstly do you really want everyone on your facebook friends list having your personal Wifi Password and being able to connect to your personal Wifi network at home remembering that your personal wifi network at home is treated as your local area network and is trusted? Wose still do you want your social media contacts and email contacts having the company Wifi password to access that at will? I don't think anyone does, but that's what's going to happen unless you disable this feature. 
  • Did you know that Wifi Sense also captures your GPS location as well as your wifi password? How save is this data that your sharing? Where is it stored and how is it shared? Consider the potential risk of having that data compromised and revealing the wifi passwords of millions of users worldwide, that alone should be enough to turn this feature off. 

So its up to you, as users to make your own deicision on how this goes down, all I can do is point out the risks and leave it with you. Microsoft have a FAQ on the subject which I recommend reading for additional information. 

To Disable Wifi Sense follow the instructions found HERE. Remember, even if YOU disable it and then let someone you know have access who has NOT disabled it then there is a possibility of your Wifi Password being shared, so check with everyone who give access to that they have also disabled WifiSense. If you are still worried then you can change your SSID to something followed by _optout as per the Microsoft FAQ but that seems a little extreme unless you have already shared your Wifi Password unknowingly with the world in which case change both the SSID AND WIFI Password once you've disabled WifiSense. 

You may also want to consider disabling location tracking by following the instructions HERE

 

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Sunday, 18 November 2018

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