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Microsoft finds a way to screw up AI… already!

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How bad have they f*cked up?


Two weeks ahead of Recall’s launch on new Copilot+ PCs on June 18, security researchers have demonstrated how preview versions of the tool store the screenshots in an unencrypted database. The researchers say the data could easily be hoovered up by an attacker. And now, in a warning about how Recall could be abused by criminal hackers, Alex Hagenah, a cybersecurity strategist and ethical hacker, has released a demo tool that can automatically extract and display everything Recall records on a laptop.
Dubbed TotalRecall—yes, after the 1990 sci-fi film—the tool can pull all the information that Recall saves into its main database on a Windows laptop. “The database is unencrypted. It’s all plain text,” Hagenah says.⁩ Since Microsoft revealed Recall in mid-May, security researchers have repeatedly compared it to spyware or stalkerware that can track everything you do on your device. “It’s a Trojan 2.0 really, built in,” Hagenah says, adding that he built TotalRecall—which he’s releasing on GitHub—in order to show what is possible and to encourage Microsoft to make changes before Recall fully launches.
The company unveiled Recall as part of a Surface laptop event last month. The tool continuously takes screenshots of whatever’s happening on your PC. Recall is intended to allow people to “retrieve” things you’ve done on your machine—whether it’s web pages you’ve visited or messages you’ve been sent—using natural language search queries. Microsoft’s description of the tool says Recall could be used to search for recipes you’ve looked at online but whose websites you’ve forgotten.
TotalRecall, Hagenah says, can automatically work out where the Recall database is on a laptop and then make a copy of the file, parsing all the data as it does so. While Microsoft’s new Copilot+ PCs aren’t out yet, it’s possible to use Recall by emulating a version of the devices. “It does everything automatically,” he says. The system can set a date range for extracting the data—for instance, pulling information from only one specific week or day. Pulling one day of screenshots from Recall, which stores its information in an SQLite database, took two seconds at most, Hagenah⁩ says.

Time to start disabling this useless surveillance software…