Microsoft recently added a new privacy feature that allows Windows 11 users to get a list of all apps that have recently accessed sensitive information and devices, including the camera, microphone, and contacts.
You can also monitor usage or see what those apps or tools are doing. These hardware features are important because they can be misused to spy on where you are or what you’re doing with your camera or microphone.
Microsoft is developing a new privacy dashboard for Windows 11 within the Settings app. The company integrates the new panel into the Privacy and Security page in Settings.
Device permissions can be a bit confusing in Windows 10, as Microsoft doesn’t provide much information about using the app. And you can see which app is using the microphone right from the taskbar. But the list of apps that have previously accessed the device’s functions cannot be displayed.
The feature was added to a June 11 preview release of Windows, and can now be tested by Windows Insider subscribers in the Developer Channel.
Along with requests to access users’ contacts, the newly built privacy feature also tracks which apps have accessed other sensitive information related to your location, phone calls, messages and screenshots in the past week.
A list of those apps is available via the Windows 11 Settings app, under App permissions as a drop-down list. Each category of tracked information is shown.
If you select the camera, you can see its recent activity by clicking on the dropdown menu. The menu also allows you to browse the timeline of camera usage. Likewise, you can monitor app request activity for other hardware features, such as a microphone or location.
The list includes information about the last time the resource was accessed by the application. But clicking on each entry does not provide additional information.
You may find things as obvious as using the Edge browser for your site and using the microphone. But you may see more things like a third party app secretly accessing the location while it’s running in the background.
Microsoft has not officially revealed this new privacy feature in the Windows Insider blog. But the new capability was revealed by David Weston, the company’s vice president of enterprise security and operating systems, in a tweet .
Microsoft is testing a privacy audit feature in Windows 11
Windows has never had such a useful privacy tool. But Microsoft appears to be taking steps to improve the operating system’s privacy controls.
Microsoft is also exploring new taskbar features for the operating system, including dynamic updates.
Microsoft has always had a troubled reputation for privacy when it comes to Windows, particularly since the advent of Windows 10.
As a result, the software giant is taking a positive step in this regard that will help Windows 11 users maintain the best level of security when it comes to their computers.
Microsoft also announced in April that Windows 11 is getting improved protection against targeted phishing attacks with the help of Microsoft Defender SmartScreen, the company’s cloud-based anti-phishing and anti-malware service.
Another feature, called Personal Data Encryption, protects users’ files and data while they’re not signed in by blocking access until they authenticate via Windows Hello.
And Microsoft wants to enable the data protection feature by default. You also want to provide additional protection for LSA in Windows 11 Enterprise to further improve security in enterprise environments.