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Suppose a person is running a Windows 7/8 operating system. If she/he uses the TOR web-browser, can Microsoft see what they are browsing? Would that not defeat the point of using TOR in the first place? Does Microsoft not parse through saved/captured data on non-Windows browsers the way it does for Internet Explorer?

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    Do you have a reference that Microsoft actually logs your browsing behavior on Windows? – Lucas Kauffman Jul 27 '15 at 17:57
  • For onedrive settings on Windows 8, it backs up your browsing history online by default.If you look at the sync settings it gives you the option to delete these online backups. (i think thats only for IE but not 100 percent sure that doesn't extend to most other browsers like firefox, chrome). Whether windows monitors stuff at your end on the machine, (as well as online by cookies, beacons and all that, ) i don't know. – husky Jul 27 '15 at 18:24
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Tor browser prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit. It prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location, and it lets you access sites which are blocked.

This statement is valid for Microsoft Windows OS. So to answer bluntly: No.

EDIT:

Following your comment: As by your machine being compromised you are asking if your Tor browser activities are no longer that protected.

From the official documentation you can read:

The User Agent MUST (at user option) prevent all disk records of browser activity. The user should be able to optionally enable URL history and other history features if they so desire.

So as long as you did not change the default settings of your Tor browser, it won't save your browsing history in any file. This way, even if your machine is compromised, your Tor browsing activities are still protected.

  • thanks for your reply: I guess i was thinking that since the tor browser is running in windows OS, then how can it not see the stuff thats happening on your machine? – husky Jul 27 '15 at 18:18
  • @husky check my edit – user45139 Jul 27 '15 at 18:25
  • thanks again. I know that tor doesn't write things to disk in the default settings, but ??i assume?? things like RAM, javascript have to see whats going on?? If you assume the default settings for tor browser + javascript enabled. – husky Jul 27 '15 at 19:14
  • @husky well, in JavaScript you can read hardware information yes, in theory you Tor browser could be vulnerable as others but you can make it safer using Tails, sandboxes ... and as far as I know there have not been vulnerabilities in Tor browser as severe as those of IE, Chrome, Firefox ... there has been a way to get user's IP but using Tor info. – user45139 Jul 27 '15 at 19:55
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    @husky Tor browser itself is as secure on Windows as on Linux if you followed the good practices -such as not saving the browsing history, however the more you expose your Tor browser to vulnerabilities the more you are not protected especially if you run Windows which is more targeted by malware and hackers. – user45139 Jul 28 '15 at 6:29
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Microsoft is able to remotely push code to your machine that will be installed and executed with the system's privileges the next time Windows Update runs (a practical example of this is the new "Get Windows 10" tray icon bullshit that continuously stays running in memory).

So, while they definitely won't be doing this on a large scale (eventually someone will notice and they'll get busted), a targeted attack against you based on your IP or some unique identifier linked to your computer or Windows product key is possible by delivering you some custom malware disguised as a standard Windows security update. That malware could even disguise its traffic as legitimate Windows Update traffic, making it undetectable even when actively monitoring network traffic.

So you'll have to trust that Microsoft itself doesn't want to compromise you, that their government isn't forcing them to do so, and that nobody has broken into Windows Update's servers deep enough to be able to publish and sign the malicious update.

My advice is to use Linux or BSD (use a thin distro to reduce the attack surface and unwanted effects of some greedy distros) if you want to hide anything sensitive from Microsoft or any government.

  • "So, while they definitely won't be doing this on a large scale (eventually someone will notice and they'll get busted)" - I get the impression they (Microsoft) consider your data their data and couldn't care less if they get caught. After all, they read your email (and written letters in the UK are supposed to be inviolable). Nobody made enough of a fuss. I guess if they do it, they'll just say 'its to catch CP/ terrorists or both'. – husky Jul 27 '15 at 21:53
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In short, you only have Microsoft's promise that they won't do that. If Microsoft were to log your activity inside programs for their own purposes, they would likely come under a lot of fire for doing so, both in terms of people being angry as well as possible legal action (especially from government agencies that use Windows). I wouldn't worry too much about Microsoft spying on your Windows programs.

What you really would have to worry about more is spyware. Certain keylogging programs can record everything you type, click, and even take periodic screenshots, and email all of this information to the person spying on you. This would capture everything you do in Tor (or any other) browser.

As a side note, though, don't install any toolbars from anyone in the Tor browser, in case you get tempted to. That might very well be parsing your web page visits for data analytics purposes.

  • "In short, you only have Microsoft's promise that they won't do that." True. I'm not sure they even make that promise in the first place re. browsers. And they seem to look through onedrive and their proprietary email and stuff. – husky Jul 27 '15 at 19:05

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