A recent piece of news from The Intercept, indicates that Windows 10 user’s control over his/her privacy may just not be as absolute as the company would have made you believe. In fact, if you have purchased a brand new Windows 10 PC or even upgraded your system to it, it is quite likely that your disk encryption key has been uploaded and stored on Microsoft servers — yup — without you knowing it.
As per reports, people who have logged on to Windows 10 with their Microsoft accounts are the most likely to come under the danger. The encrypted and stored data in contention here, is useful for accessing the hard drive in case it malfunctions. However, in the unlikely — yet not impossible considering the times we live in today — event that a hacker gains access to your Microsoft account, they could make a copy of it and use it to do all sorts of stuff to your machine.
Also, while a better alternative may be backing it up on an external hard disk — which would thus prevent any dangers of misuse — unfortunately, you don’t even get that choice.
Much like the automatic updates, Window’s built-in encryption tool automatically uploads your key, whether you want it or not. However, if you are associated with a school, university or company, and login to Windows using your organization’s Windows domain, then your recovery key will be uploaded to a server controlled by your company or university instead of Microsoft — perhaps reducing the danger, but not completely eliminating it.
Although there is no way to stop Microsoft from automatically uploading the keys to the cloud, you can visit this site and enter the details of the Microsoft account associated with your PC. From here, you can delete them too and Microsoft promises that all copies of the data is removed in a matter of hours. However, make sure that you copy the key in a safe place somewhere first — try the old and tested method of using pen and paper — in case a mishap does occur and you want to get to make a recovery.
You can also add another layer of security by using Bitlocker for encryption. The app — there are other similar third-party apps too — lets you save the key in your Microsoft account, on a USB stick or even print it. Simply avoid choosing the first option and you can be sure that your keys are safe and out of the reach of prying eyes.