Microsoft AI feature under investigation by UK watchdog over screenshots | Scientific and technical news

A new Microsoft feature that takes screenshots of users’ laptops every two seconds is being investigated by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

The call function will be installed on a new Microsoft laptops and is part of them AI (AI) program Copilot+.

The feature will record everything the user does by taking screenshots every few seconds. It then allows the user to scroll back through their activity and search.

However, after security concerns were raised about the feature, the ICO said: “We are making inquiries with Microsoft to understand the safeguards in place to protect user privacy.”

Recall is designed to “help you easily find and remember things you’ve seen using natural language,” according to Microsoft, using AI and “photographic memory.”

For example, if a user is shopping online and spots a nice brown leather bag, days later they may search for “brown leather bag” on Recall.

It will then take screenshots of the times they were looking at a brown leather bag and link them to the websites they were on. It will also search through photos, documents, presentations and files and pull up anything relevant on their laptop.

It can even suggest actions the user would like to take in relation to their search.

However, one cyber defense The expert described the new feature as a catch-and-go target for criminals.

“With this feature, all of a sudden endpoints will become a more lucrative target,” said Muhammad Yahya Patel, lead security engineer at Check Point, a cybersecurity firm.

“It’s a one-off attack for criminals, like a grab-and-go, but with Recall, they’ll basically have everything in one place.”


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Microsoft said all files will be stored locally on users’ laptops and “will not be accessible by Microsoft or anyone without device access,” which should reduce the risk of hackers accessing files in a cloud system.

However, the files will not be censored in any way when they are stored, meaning that personal information such as visible passwords or visible medical information will be preserved in the screenshots.

If the user’s laptop is hacked c, there are concerns that highly sensitive data may become easily accessible.

“Imagine the goldmine of information that will be stored on a machine and the threats actors can make with it,” Mr Patel said.

Charlie Milton, vice president of cybersecurity firm Censornet, said the feature increases the risk of fraud by potentially allowing hackers to understand the lifestyles of their victims.

“Like [hacker]the first thing I’m going to do is go and look at all the screenshots of what you’ve been up to lately to understand your behavior,” he said.

“If I’m going to try to get money from you, the best way to do it is to pretend to be someone you’re likely to transfer money to and with whom you’ve worked in the last 48 hours, and then say that the my bank account has changed.

“This will give these malicious actors a really good understanding of user behavior and recent user behavior so they can influence you.” That’s really important.”

Microsoft told the BBC that a would-be hacker would need to physically gain access to a device, unlock it and log in before accessing saved screenshots.

In a blog post about the new feature, Microsoft also said the user is “always in control” and can “delete individual snapshots, adjust and delete time ranges in Settings, or pause at any time.” They can also stop the recording feature of specific apps and websites.

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