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Microsoft Registry Profile exposure

Microsoft "User Information"

This sample application demonstrates the availability of Microsoft's user information section for registered Microsoft software, which is stored in the registry, freely available to any application you run.

MS Privacy Info Sample (privacy.exe, requires VB6 runtimes, use at your own risk)

If you run this sample and it tells you that there is "No privacy information found" then the hive has not been populated (meaning either you deleted it or have not registered any Microsoft product). If it has several values that don't have any "privacy" information then chances are you haven't registered any Microsoft products. If you have it should list a great majority of information you filled out in the registration process.

As a developer it upsets me that Microsoft would make this information so easily available to any application with registry access (completely available to all apps on Win9x). I don't like having this information available, however, through informing the public I urge you to write Microsoft and complain that this information is stored accessibly in the registry, and to delete it from your computer.

The application posted here does *not* remove this information from your registry. It will simply alert you to whether or not any rogue application is capable of reading it. If you have any Microsoft software loaded on your computer I do not doubt that this info is there.

If you would like to remove this information from your registry, open RegEdit and drill down to [HKLM\Software\Microsoft\User information]. If you don't know how to get there, find someone that does as the registry is *not* a toy. I recommend backing up this group ("File">"Export Registry File", save it somewhere you can find it) before deleting it. I have not had any problems since removing it (over a month ago), but I do not guarantee that you will not. Remove the entire Section "User Information".

The file above is a sample of what information can be obtained through the typical application on your computer. Yes, ActiveX controls "marked as safe" can access this information, and so can any scripts (web-site scripting as well) that uses the "Windows Scripting Host" technology. I would think a company of their size would be a little more responsible about the information they collect from their customers.

The following quote was taken from the Microsoft's privacy statement on 2000/05/30.

Q: How can I quit a registration wizard before finishing, and what happens to the information I've already typed in?

A: If you begin a registration form, then decide you don't want to finish it, just click the cancel button on the bottom of the page. You will be delivered to the entry page of the Profile Center. None of the information entered on the page where you quit the wizard will be saved. However, information entered on previous pages of that wizard, if any, will be saved in our database.

(Quoted from: [emphasis mine]

Looks like whether or not you cancel, any info you've entered in up to that point is stored regardless.

Shawn K. Hall

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Carschooling by Diane Flynn Keith

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