Cybersecurity expert calls Windows 11’s new Recall feature, which takes screenshots of all user activity, a privacy disaster – Mezha.Media

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As Microsoft prepares to launch a new AI-powered Recall feature that will be part of the upcoming Copilot+ PCs, cybersecurity experts are sounding the alarm over potential security risks, reports The Verge.

The Recall feature, scheduled to launch on June 18, is designed to capture and store screenshots of everything users do on their PCs, offering a searchable timeline for quick retrieval of information. Despite Microsoft’s assurances about the security and privacy of this feature, experts warn that it could be a “disaster” for cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity expert calls Windows 11's new Recall feature, which takes screenshots of all user activity, a privacy disaster

Kevin Beaumont, a cybersecurity expert formerly with Microsoft, tested the Recall feature and found significant security vulnerabilities. Beaumont discovered that Recall saves screenshots to a SQLite text database in the user’s folder. This could potentially allow attackers to extract sensitive data with malware.

Windows Recall

“Every few seconds, screenshots are taken. These are automatically OCR’d by Azure AI, running on your device, and written into an SQLite database in the user’s folder,” Beaumont explained in his blog. “This database file has a record of everything you’ve ever viewed on your PC in plain text.”

Beaumont demonstrated the problem by hacking into his own Recall database. He withheld detailed technical information to give Microsoft time to fix the security issue before the official release.

The introduction of Recall prompted a swift response from privacy advocates and regulators. Privacy campaigners have called it a potential “nightmare,” and the UK Information Commissioner’s Office has launched an investigation into Microsoft’s use of this AI-powered feature.

However, the company insists that Recall is an optional feature and emphasizes the privacy controls built into it. Users can disable certain URLs and applications, and Recall will not store material protected by digital rights management tools. In addition, Recall does not intercept InPrivate sessions of major browsers.

Microsoft also claims that Recall data is securely encrypted and stored locally on the device, protected by BitLocker encryption in Windows 11 Pro. Beaumont notes, however, that disk encryption alone is not enough, as it primarily protects against physical theft, not remote hacking attempts.

“Encryption at rest only helps if somebody comes to your house and physically steals your laptop — that isn’t what criminal hackers do,” Beaumont writes.

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