Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Not cool, Edge.

So, anyway, Windows 10 likes to show me notifications from apps, and stuff, and mostly, that's ok, because I can turn them off from the Chatty Cathy things, and it's handy for the few important ones... and, mostly, they tell you which app it's coming from, so it's easy to turn it off if you don't want it... but ...

There was one that kept coming in, several times a day, and it was annoying, because it would frequently cover up something I was trying to read, or click on... and it wouldn't say what was putting it up.

The only clue I had was that it was from an Asian/English website, devoted to computer security and news, so I thought, "It must be a browser extension."

I have Edge, Chrome and Firefox on this box, so I started searching each of them for extensions.



Then, I got another notification, and no browsers were running.

Hmmmmmmmm again.

I was starting to believe my machine might be compromised, but given that I knew the name of the website, I decided to search the registry for that name, just to see if anything gave me a hint, and sure enough, I found a key associated with MicrosoftEdge\Notifications\Domains. There were about six domains there, including the Chatty Cathy one.

But then I thought, "Wait ... Edge is not running ... how can it be sending me notifications?", so I ran Task Manager, and sure enough, even though the Edge User Interface was not running, Edge _was_ running.

Armed with that knowledge, I was able to go into Edge Advanced Settings, and remove those domains. I don't remember doing it, but I guess I must have clicked on something that allowed those websites to send me notifications. A refresh of the registry showed they were indeed gone, and my laptop is appropriately quiet again, but the disquieting thing is that Edge is still running in the background, and is presumably quietly sharing information, and accepting requests from websites I don't know about.

I don't think there is much I can do about it, although the other browsers don't _seem_ to be running in the background, so I'll see. Maybe this was common knowledge, but I didn't know, so I'm sharing.

At an absolute minimum, this is the Privacy Revolution in action, or mis-action, and to paraphrase Bill Shakespeare and Macbeth, "I hope nothing malicious this way comes."