Should you submit to Microsoft?


What should you do when Microsoft asks to see one of your documents?  Submit the files or not?

There’s no easy answer when Microsoft asks to see a file from your computer for their anti-virus system, Windows Defender.   Do you send the files or not?

This can happen with Defender hits a file that seems questionable in some way.  Microsoft wants to check the file carefully to see if it’s a risk.  If not, hopefully they can tweak their detection system to not trigger on that type of file.

Obviously, Microsoft wants to see the files.  It’s in their interest which is why you get two options but neither of them is a direct ‘No’.   Send files means ‘Yes’ while Review means ‘maybe’.

You might be helping Microsoft fine-tune their anti-virus system which benefits all Windows users.  Or you’re handing over a possibly sensitive document to a third-party to read and do what they like with.

Ideally, no human will ever read the document you send.  It’ll be scanned by Microsoft servers, some data collected and then the file is removed without any carbon based lifeform reading it.

But there’s always the chance that the document will be read or it’s leaked in some way.

Always choose Review

The initial ‘Send File’ request says noting about what file/s will be sent and that’s something you should definitely check before sending anything out.

Always choose ‘Review’ to see that Microsoft wants.

Here’s what you’ll see.  In this case, it’s a Word backup document (.wbk) which may have triggered Defender because of VBA code in the text.

Your options are:

Send selected – check the boxes of the files you’re willing to send

Don’t Send –  send nothing to Microsoft.

What to do?

We’re a big fan of contributing to a pool of knowledge for everyone’s benefit.

However, Microsoft and other tech companies don’t have a good track record of preserving other people’s privacy.  So, we err on the side of caution and rarely send files to Microsoft (or any other anti-virus system).

Never Send Files

Buried deep in Windows Defender is the option to never send sample files.

In the current Windows 10 go to Defender | Settings | Virus and threat settings | Automatic sample submission.  Turn the option OFF to stop Windows asking if it can send files.

 


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