October 25, 2013
Windows Phone Experiences Series Of Twitter-Related Data Leaks
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
While testing new smartphones running the Windows Phone operating system last week, reviewers with The Verge noticed a data leak of over 3 GB. The problem has since been pinpointed to Microsoft’s People Hub feature as Twitter moves its profile pictures from one server to another.
So far it’s not yet known when this issue began and it doesn’t seem to be affecting any single handset or version of the operating system. Therefore, this data leak can likely affect any and all devices running Microsoft’s mobile OS with Twitter accounts saved in contact information, even if the People Hub feature isn’t used.
According to The Verge, which reported the error to Microsoft once it was found, the problem will likely disappear once Twitter is finished shuffling servers. Until then, Microsoft has issued a command for all Windows Phones to only update their Twitter information once a day. Those cautious about the amount of data they’re using can download an application called “Data Sense” to keep track of their usage.
The combination of Microsoft’s frequent upgrading and Twitter’s back-end switching is causing phones to constantly churn through data. The test units The Verge reviewed were blowing through as much as 300 MB of mobile data and 3 GB of Wi-Fi data, a considerable amount for those with limited data plans. When Twitter accounts are stored in contact lists, Windows will check with Twitter periodically to make sure the profile picture and other information is recent. As some of this information, specifically the profile pictures, is in flux, Windows Phones get lost in the shuffle and burn through data allotments. Readers of The Verge have confirmed this behavior and have noted their own significant data leaks.
According to the report, the only way to protect oneself from this data leak is to completely remove Twitter accounts from contact lists to prevent Windows from updating it. Even if a user doesn’t use People Hub, the phone will keep trying to update the contact lists.
Windows Phones have seen data leaks like this in the past. In 2011, Windows pundit Paul Thurrot noticed that devices running Windows Phone 7 were sending out as much as 30 to 50 MB of data at certain points in every day.
“Basically what's happening is that the phone is utilizing the 3G data connection even when Wi-Fi is available,” he wrote in a January 2011 blog.
Microsoft later confirmed the leak was found in the way the phone communicated with Yahoo’s mail servers.