Have you recently purchased a Windows computer?
Congratulations! As your new Windows computer has inbuilt disk encryption feature that is turned on by default in order to protect your data in case your device is lost or stolen.
Moreover, In case you lost your encryption keys then don’t worry, Microsoft has a copy of your Recovery Key.
But Wait! If Microsoft already has your Disk Encryption Keys then what’s the use of using disk encryption feature? Doesn’t Encryption mean Only you can unlock your disk?
Microsoft Probably Holds your Encryption Keys
Since the launch of Windows 8.1, Microsoft is offering disk encryption as a built-in feature for Windows laptops, Windows phones and other devices.
However, there is a little-known fact, highlighted
by The Intercept, that if you have logged into Windows 10
using your Microsoft account, your system had automatically uploaded a copy of your recovery key to Microsoft’s servers secretly, and you can’t prevent device encryption from sending your recovery key.
Note: Do not get confuse device encryption with BitLocker. Both works same but have different configuration options. BitLocker offers users a choice whether or not they want to backup their Recovery keys on Windows server.
Why Should You Worry?
- If a hacker hacks your Microsoft account, he can make a copy of your recovery key before you delete it (method described below).
- Any Rogue employee at Microsoft with access to user data can access your recovery key.
- If Microsoft itself get hacked, the hacker can have their hands on your recovery key.
- Even Law Enforcement or Spy agencies could also request Microsoft to hand over your recovery key.
“Your computer is now only as secure as that database of keys held by Microsoft, which means it may be vulnerable to hackers, foreign governments, and people who can extort Microsoft employees,” said Matthew Green, a cryptography professor at Johns Hopkins University.
How to Delete your Recovery Key from your Microsoft Account?
Although there’s no way to prevent a new Windows computer from uploading the recovery key at the very first time you log into your Microsoft account, you can delete the existing recovery key from your Microsoft account and generate a new one.
Follow these simple steps in order to remove your recovery key from your Microsoft account:
Open this website
and log in with your Microsoft Account
Step 2: You will find list of recovery keys backed up to your Microsoft Account
Step 3: Take a back of your recovery Keys locally
Step 4: Go ahead and delete your recovery key from Microsoft Account.
Important Fact: Green also pointed out that even after deleting the recovery key from your Microsoft account, there is no guarantee that the key has been removed from the company’s server.
Instant Solution: To solve this issue, Windows users are recommended to stop using their old encryption keys and generate a new one without sharing it with Microsoft.
How to Generate a New Encryption key (Without Sending a copy to Microsoft)?
Sorry for Windows Home Edition users, but Windows Pro or Enterprise users can create new key by decrypting whole hard disk and then re-encrypt the disk, and this time in such a way that you will actually get asked how you want to backup your Recovery Key.
Step 1: Go to Start, type “Bitlocker,” and click “Manage BitLocker.”
Step 2: Click “Turn off BitLocker” and it will decrypt your disk.
Step 3: Once done, Click “Turn on BitLocker” again.
Step 4: Then Windows will ask you: How you want to backup your Recovery Key. Make sure to DO NOT SELECT “Save to your Microsoft Account.” That’s it.
Finally, the new Windows device you purchased specially for disk encryption feature has now enabled the feature, and Microsoft no longer can unlock it.