Analysts downplay Windows 8 privacy issues

The Windows 8 Consumer Preview build has a feature that one person fears is a major privacy concern. On Monday, Infoworld reported that when a Windows 8 PC connects with a number of social networking services like Facebook and Twitter, " ... it keeps a cache of contacts from all of those sources stored on the machine. The cache persists even when the user logs off or the machine is turned off."

In theory that means anyone who signs onto your Windows 8 PC could see a list of your contacts, although they must have the admin rights to do so. However, another report on ITWorld.com downplays this issue.

Michael Cherry is a lead analyst for Directions on Microsoft, (a third party independent company with no direct Microsoft ties). He states, "My sense is that Microsoft will take some steps to remedy any issues, but in the area of privacy, the remedy may simply be to tell people that their information is shared among the services.

Mark Baldwin, principal researcher and consultant at InfosecStuff, feels that Windows 8 needs to cache this kind of data in order to improve performance for the OS. He adds, "As the author noted, one must have admin rights to view this data for a user other than yourself."

Cherry also states that in the end, Microsoft might be best served to let people know upfront that their contact list could be shared, saying, "On many sites, you have to go through many pages and read long documents. At the end of the day, it's too hard to understand. Part of the fix would be to make it really clear."

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