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  1. #1
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    TOP STORY

    Hotmail's social networking busts your privacy


    By Woody Leonhard

    In its rush to take on Facebook and Google Buzz, Microsoft is now collecting and displaying personal information on your Hotmail page you may never have wanted to broadcast.

    Exactly how it's mining this information is something of a mystery, but if you use Hotmail or Windows Live, it's time to review your privacy settings — lest something you said or did comes back to haunt you.

    The full text of this column is posted at WindowsSecrets.com/2010/04/22/01 (opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.


    Last edited by revia; 2011-01-19 at 15:49.

  2. #2
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    Thanks for the article. I had no idea all this personal info was being shared and out in the open.

    You are right about the permissions pages... there's a ridiculous amount of options and boxes to be unchecked. Most people wouldn't bother going through them all (which is probably the idea). Would be nice if the default wasn't "Everyone (public)" for many of the options, too.

    Clicking on permissions for Photos or Files brings up an error page:

    XML Parsing Error: not well-formed
    Location: http://cid-be6ea5d9f03a05bd.skydrive...om/albums.aspx
    Line Number 47, Column 184:
    <div id="m_wh"><script type="text/javascript">/* Copyright (C) 2009 Microsoft Corporation */function $c_TreatTile(a,e){a.style.display=e;var d=a.width,c=a.height,b=19;if(d>=c||c<b)a.height=b; if(d<c||d<b)a.width=b}</script>
    I also saw status updates from Live Messenger from months ago which I wouldn't want saved for all to see.

    Social networking gone crazy.

  3. #3
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    What an interesting Article. I think I have some more information on it that really will show how devious Microsoft has been in this blatent "Invasion of Privacy". I do have Proof of it in several ways.

    My Background is that I am retired and disabled now. As a Hobby I repair Computers for disadvantaged people, their only charge is for Parts I have to buy in, if I don't have spares for it, Labour is Free, but I do ask them to use their abilities to help me out in what I can no longer do. Such as Mow the Lawn, Clean up. We are all happy with that.

    In January, this year, I was hit by a Virus/Malware from Windows Live Messenger, later traced back to originating from gmail from China. It was seemingly sent from my Neighbour's Computer on 2nd January, 2010, yet same neighbour had borrowed a shovel from me to do work at his Church. He, unlike me uses his Computer for Business purposes. I did not open it, just waited for him to come home, then called him over and showed him what I had received, still without opening it. We agreed to watch it over the weekend, just to see what would happen. Another one came 3rd January, another 4th January. Later one arrived on 9th January.

    It is possible to see what's inside a Message by right clicking on it and selecting "View Message source" My neighbour was doing that and copying what was inside, when he inadvertantly left clicked it and released the Virus/Malware, suspected to be HTML based. To this day is has not been detected, just only the way it generates Files leading to a total take over.

    My Computer over the next few days became inoperatable leading to total shutdown. HDD was rendered useless, beyond recovery. During the way it took out ALL Defenses I had installed.

    I actually received an email from my ISP, later, informing me that my Computer was acting like a Zombie before it crashed, due to my interference. I do have some abilities, backed up by my Peers. To see HiJackThis taken out was quite an experience to us all.

    I went online with other Computers that were set up with Windows Live Messenger only to see them also fail.

    I set up a Computer without Windows Live Messenger and just accessed my Hotmail from the Net. (That can be done by going to www.msn.com and up the top on the extreme right, it is extreme. Click on Hotmail) (This yet another "Hidden Part") The four aboved mentioned emails I placed in a seperate Folder, called "Suspicious Emails". As I normally do with them.

    During consultation with my Peers and AV Companies, whilst trying to copy what was inside, I inadvertenly left clicked on one of the emails. That made a flurry of rejects of Postmaster, that I picked up and saved. It was an increduble amount of rejects to something that I had not done? I went looking towards why? Remembering that it was denied access to my Computer.

    Other peers notified me that something was not right, but I noticed that Addresses concerned involved my Outlook Express from many years ago. They were sent to so many people that I had only commucateted with through Outlook Express.

    If you go online with Hotmail, look to the left and see Contacts? When I eventually clicked on that I had over 200 Contacts, not the usual 50/60 I thought. Even now, after deleting the ones that did not belong. With just 52 Contacts, Micro$oft can not still get it right. their figures do not match up to what is displayed in those Contacts.

    Love to take this further.

    I have copies of all those Rejected Adresses from Postmaster. They clearly show it. BTW? I was not using my Computer that I was during those years ago, so really know that my Outlook Express list was harvested by Windows Live Messenger and Windows Messenger. I no longer allow them on my Computers, just use Firefox and Thunderbird as default, same as any Machines I work on. I NEVER set up an Instant Messenger anymore on them, just recomend they use online to access them.

    Ray.

  4. #4
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    "In its rush to take on Facebook and Google Buzz, Microsoft is now collecting and displaying personal information on your Hotmail page — information you may never have wanted to broadcast."

    Get your facts straight! Where have you been? Windows Live has been working this way for years. This version is called Wave 3 and has operated this way for about a year and a half. The only one "rushing" is Google with Buzz. It's was about the only big player without a social network. The fact the Windows Live gives you all those security options gives you more granular control over how you share things. And those that are on your network are there because you added them. Either you added them in Windows Live Messenger or directly to an invite that you or they initiated. Windows Live does not share things with "Everyone" by default as Facebook will do unless told not to with their new "simplified" security.

    Anyway, wave 4 for Windows Live will be out soon, and it will be more prominent to basic Hotmail users as it will incorporate the new Office Web apps and updates will appear even more visibly in the Hotmail web app. Files you make with these apps can be emailed or stored online in your FREE 25 gig Windows Live SkyDrive. And when you save a file there, guess what? It's going to announce it to your network - unless you don't want to share it. Then it won't. Anyway, my opinion is that you've gone off half-cocked on something you seemingly admit that you don't know much about. I've been using this service for a long time. I have a blog on there, and my best readers are those people ON MY NETWORK. This is a great service, and they aren't rushing to do anything. Get your fact straight, and get over it!

  5. #5
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    Hi woody, nice article. I have just read through this link, http://privacy.microsoft.com/en-gb/f...spx#collection , and your comments make a mockery of it. Keep up the good work. Pete.

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    Woody, what a breath of fresh air you are. Thanks so much for an excellent article. Rick

  7. #7
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    This article made my paid WS subscription worth its weight in gold. I am appalled that my Hotmail & MSN accounts were default set to share that much information. I might have gotten some notice in microprint EULA language about this, but nothing from MS in plain english that let me know what I was sharing with the world. OMG!

    Thanks,
    W

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeffrey Flynt View Post
    Get your facts straight! Where have you been? Windows Live has been working this way for years. This version is called Wave 3 and has operated this way for about a year and a half... This is a great service, and they aren't rushing to do anything. Get your fact straight, and get over it!
    Sorry, I don't understand: what fact didn't I get straight?

    Windows Live has, no doubt, been working this way for years. Yes, I know it's Wave 3 (what most of us would call "version 3"). I also know that Wave 4 is coming RSN. I don't have any problem with Live Spaces spreading the social networking shtick.

    What I'd never encountered before was the blatant scraping, and inaccurate mashing, of data being doled out to people when they log on to Hotmail. I don't know when that change happened, and I would be grateful if you could fill me in.

    As far as it being a great service... well, OK, different strokes for different folks, I guess. But it'd sure be nice if Microsoft would ask me before they started splashing inaccurate information about me on other peoples' Hotmail logon pages.
    Woody

    For Dummies book author, Senior Contributing Editor for InfoWorld, and long-suffering Windows victim. Check out the latest at AskWoody.com.

  9. #9
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    Excellent information. I was also shocked (not really, after all, this is Microsoft) to discover that my ISP, Bell Canada (aka Sympatico), who outsourced their mail function to Microsoft in 2005, have automatically created the same Windows Live web page and social networking function with my Sympatico name and e-mail address. User beware! if your ISP has outsourced their e-mail to Microsoft, then you have a Windows Live profile that is public.

    I ran through all the permission (yes, there are a huge number) and shut them down. I will also do that for family members. My family and I do not want to be a part of social networking after some negative and quite scary experiences. Microsoft needs to add a global "bail out" button for this useless function.

  10. #10
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    I use IM (occasionally) but not Hotmail.
    Is there a chance that any of my info will show up on other users' hotmail login screens without me knowing?

  11. #11
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    Yahoo Mail is doing this too. Your article spurred me to finally go and turn off these updates.

    If you have Yahoo Mail and want to prevent people from seeing this kind of information, open Yahoo Mail, then click "Options" followed by "More Options."

    At that point, you can either unmark the "Enable Updates" checkbox and click Save Changes, or click the "Manage who sees my Updates" link and disable updates one at a time.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeffrey Flynt View Post
    "In its rush to take on Facebook and Google Buzz, Microsoft is now collecting and displaying personal information on your Hotmail page information you may never have wanted to broadcast."

    Get your facts straight! Where have you been? Windows Live has been working this way for years. This version is called Wave 3 and has operated this way for about a year and a half. The only one "rushing" is Google with Buzz. It's was about the only big player without a social network. The fact the Windows Live gives you all those security options gives you more granular control over how you share things. And those that are on your network are there because you added them. Either you added them in Windows Live Messenger or directly to an invite that you or they initiated. Windows Live does not share things with "Everyone" by default as Facebook will do unless told not to with their new "simplified" security.

    Anyway, wave 4 for Windows Live will be out soon, and it will be more prominent to basic Hotmail users as it will incorporate the new Office Web apps and updates will appear even more visibly in the Hotmail web app. Files you make with these apps can be emailed or stored online in your FREE 25 gig Windows Live SkyDrive. And when you save a file there, guess what? It's going to announce it to your network - unless you don't want to share it. Then it won't. Anyway, my opinion is that you've gone off half-cocked on something you seemingly admit that you don't know much about. I've been using this service for a long time. I have a blog on there, and my best readers are those people ON MY NETWORK. This is a great service, and they aren't rushing to do anything. Get your fact straight, and get over it!

    Just what I was thinking. I have been using WL for a while now. All the What's New info is from my network, that I set up myself. I suppose others can see what is new with me, but I can delete info I don't like.

    Google has Buzz and all their other jabber, I think Yahoo! has some network, there is Facebook (I don't use it much), and MS has something too.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Leonhard View Post
    Sorry, I don't understand: what fact didn't I get straight?

    Windows Live has, no doubt, been working this way for years. Yes, I know it's Wave 3 (what most of us would call "version 3"). I also know that Wave 4 is coming RSN. I don't have any problem with Live Spaces spreading the social networking shtick.

    What I'd never encountered before was the blatant scraping, and inaccurate mashing, of data being doled out to people when they log on to Hotmail. I don't know when that change happened, and I would be grateful if you could fill me in.

    As far as it being a great service... well, OK, different strokes for different folks, I guess. But it'd sure be nice if Microsoft would ask me before they started splashing inaccurate information about me on other peoples' Hotmail logon pages.

    I think sometime "special" must have happened in your case. Could it have been possible those pictures were form another named "Woody"? Maybe MS messed up. Wouldn't be the first time, I bet, but same for other online companies.

    Nothing has ever happened bad to me like that.

  14. #14
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    Woody,

    To thank you for exposing what many of us in the IT Security field have said for several years, social networking will be the destructive force to bring down the internet.

    You have requested more information at the end of your post.
    Here is a safe link to the Windows Blog propoganda : http://windowsteamblog.com/blogs/win...-not-dead.aspx

    Should you wish to end the agony of your personal data being exposed as many are after making the many permissions adjustments you may wish to read carefully this method to close out your WL account.

    See Below Text
    For security reasons, only Windows Live Hotmail account owners can close their own accounts.

    Follow these steps to close your account:


    1. Visit http://mail.live.com/mail/CloseAccountConfirmation.aspx

    2. Sign in using your Windows Live Hotmail account and password.

    3. Click "Close account" button.


    This will only close the e-mail service, the Windows Live ID that is associated with your account will remain active and will be deleted after 365 days of inactivity. If you would like to access any of our Windows Live ID services, please use a different account.

  15. #15
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    I know all these sites have their issues, but it does seem that Hotmail is the most problematic. The simplest solution - don't use it. That will make an impression on Microsoft faster than anything else.

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