Microsoft backtracks on Windows Recall feature amid industry outcry

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Microsoft has announced changes to its controversial ‘Recall’ feature following a flood of criticism over potential security and data privacy risks. 

In a post to the firm’s blog, Pavan Davuluri, VP for Windows and devices, shared an update after initially causing upset with the tool’s ability to screenshot potentially sensitive information. 

“Even before making Recall available to customers, we have heard a clear signal that we can make it easier for people to choose to enable Recall on their Copilot+ PC and improve privacy and security safeguards,” Davuluri said.

To do this, Microsoft has said that it will give users a clearer opt-in choice which, unless proactively chosen, will render the tool turned off by default. Microsoft originally stated that the feature would be off by default. 

Windows Hello enrollment will now be required to enable the feature, while proof of presence will be required to access the timelines and search features within Recall. 

On top of that, Microsoft will be adding additional layers of data protection to the tool, such as “just in time” decryption which is protected by Windows Hello Enhanced Sign-in Security (ESS).

This means that images captured by Recall will only be decrypted and accessible when the user authenticates, while the search index database which helps power Recall will also be encrypted.

“In line with Microsoft’s SFI principles, before the preview release of Recall to customers, we are taking steps to increase data protection,” Davuluri said. 

Davuluri also stressed that the devices built with Recall, its new Copilot+ PCs, will be “secure by default” and fitted with firmware safeguards, chip-to-cloud security, and ESS. 

Microsoft’s hand forced over Windows Recall 

Windows Recall was first unveiled by Microsoft at its annual 'Build' conference in May, with the tech giant announcing the move alongside the launch of its new Copilot+ PC range

Initially dubbed a “security nightmare” by Kevin Beaumont, director of emerging threats at the Arcadia Group, Microsoft has come under serious flack over Recall, with many in the cyber security community angry at the obvious risks. 

While Beaumont stated that the feature will “undoubtedly lead to increased fraud,” the UK’s Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) announced that it was probing the matter further via inquiries with Microsoft. 


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“Attackers continue to prove that initial access to a system is often the lesser challenge within the attack chain when compared to persistence, the elevation of privileges, and lateral movement,” Douglas McKee, Executive Director at SonicWall, told ITPro

“Yet with Microsoft Recall, initial access is all that is needed to potentially steal sensitive information such as passwords or company trade secrets,” he added.

George Fitzmaurice
Staff Writer

George Fitzmaurice is a staff writer at ITPro, ChannelPro, and CloudPro, with a particular interest in AI regulation, data legislation, and market development. After graduating from the University of Oxford with a degree in English Language and Literature, he undertook an internship at the New Statesman before starting at ITPro. Outside of the office, George is both an aspiring musician and an avid reader.