The National Security Agency’s X-KEYSCORE program gives the spy agency access to a wide range of Internet traffic. Any information that isn’t encrypted is, naturally, visible to passive Internet wiretaps of the kind the NSA and other intelligence agencies use. This in turn will typically expose such things as e-mails, online chats, and general browsing behavior.
And, according to slides published this weekend by Der Spiegel, this information also includes crash reports from Microsoft’s Windows Error Reporting facility built in to Windows.
These reports will tell eavesdroppers what versions of what software someone is running, what operating system they use, and whenever that software has crashed. Windows also sends messages in the clear whenever a USB or PCI device is plugged in as part of its hunt for suitable drivers.
A computer crash is hard enough without thinking that the NSA can grab that information. Sending information like this in the open should simply not be done if a company worries about retaining customers. Especially as so many Windows machines are used by businesses.
Heck, I would not put it past the NSA to be able to crash your computer when they want just to look at some data.