August 2, 2011

Microsoft No Longer Tracking Wi-Fi Devices On The Go

Microsoft said on Monday that it updated its geographic location positioning service so it would no longer track Windows-based devices, accord to a report by PC Magazine's Chloe Albanesius.

The company faced criticism after a report by Stanford University researcher Elie Burzstein showed how Microsoft's on-the-go data revealed the location of its devices.

"To my surprise, Microsoft's API did not enforce any query restrictions," Bursztein wrote in a blog post on Friday. "You can get the location for a single MAC address and do as many queries as you want."

Since then Microsoft said it improved filtering to validate each location request so Windows devices no longer return an exact location.

"While it was not possible to use the service to track a roaming mobile phone or laptop using its MAC address prior to this change, Microsoft is keenly aware of the sensitivity around all privacy issues, especially those surrounding geolocation," Reid Kuhn, partner group manager on the Windows Phone engineering team, said in a blog post, reports PC Magazine.

Bursztein wrote on his Twitter Sunday that he had a call with Microsoft officials and they had issued a live patch to fix the issue.

"Microsoft's privacy and security team has been in contact with Elie and we will continue the ongoing dialog with experts in the privacy field to improve our service offerings. We thank Elie and his team for working with us on this issue," Kuhn wrote.

Microsoft said initially that it discards on-the-go data and only focuses on devices with fixed locations.

Bursztein said he plans to present his findings this week at a BlackHat security conference.


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