Lenovo is not preloading malware, here is why

The author (‘Michael Horowitz’) of the article of Computer World seemed to have found out there was a scheduled task in Windows for a program called Lenovo Customer Feedback with the help of a third-party program from Nirsoft.

He also went in the installation directory of ‘Lenovo Customer Feedback’ and found out the names of the companies that are delivering the services for providing usage statistics to Lenovo. One of these is Adobe Omniture, which is also used by Computer World to analyze the traffic that visits their website. Adobe completed the acquisition of Omniture in 2009.

What is the Lenovo Customer Feedback program and what does it do?

Basically almost every individual application allows you to either opt-in or opt-out to send usage statistic to Lenovo. For example in the picture below for ‘Lenovo Settings’, you can always choose to opt-out again at any time.

If you do opt in to log usage statistics and upload it to Lenovo. You are basically only sending which features you use and how often you use them. This is done to detect which features are used by their customers and on which computer models. If a certain feature is not used, it will be removed again later in time to prevent cluttering and bloatware. Also, if the application crashes, the crash logs will be send back to Lenovo for analysis and fixing.

Is this ethical for Lenovo to do this? Yes it is. Many software companies do this: Adobe (Photoshop, Illustrator, …), Microsoft (Office, Visual Studio, …), Google (Android, Chrome), Mozilla, and so on.

Check out the consent screen of Google Chrome. If that does not look familiar to any one of you when installing just any kind of software, … What I want to say is, it is exactly the same thing.

googlechrome_privacy
Google Chrome’s consent screen to send usage statistics.

In the directory ‘C:Program Files (x86)LenovoMetricCollectionSDKlicenses’ we find the license agreement:

Lenovo will collect basic information about what applications, services, and offers you choose during system setup. In order to make your experience more useful and enjoyable we may also collect information on how you use Lenovo applications. If you decide at any time you’d like us to stop collecting information on how you use Lenovo applications, you may open Settings and turn off Usage statistics. These processes do not involve the collection of any personally identifiable information.

Lenovo is not collecting data you enter in a text field, they are not collecting passwords, they do not track which websites you visit, and so on.

You can click the ‘wrench-icon’ at the top right to enter the settings menu in the example below.

lenovosettings

Other examples of programs from Lenovo that may ask you to track usage statistics:

  • Lenovo AppCloud
  • Lenovo Aura
  • Lenovo Companion
  • Lenovo Settings
  • Lenovo ShareIt
  • Lenovo WriteIt

Now where Lenovo Customer Feedback program is coming into play is that every program is generating its own pool of usage statistics if they have opted in. So every program has a unique id ‘reportSuiteId’ to link it to a pool.

What Lenovo Customer Feedback program does is, uploading all this data on a scheduled basis if there are usage statistics present. By default, this is done on a daily basis. Lenovo Customer Feedback program is not malware, it is just a hub to reduce network activity and to centralize uploading of all the data.

As shown in the picture below, we may also be able to blacklist or disable uploading usage statistics of certain programs by setting ‘reportMetrics’ to ‘false’ for that pool of statistics. In case you are interested to look at this file yourself, you can find it in the program files folder. In my case it was at ‘C:Program Files (x86)LenovoCustomer Feedback Program 35’. The number of the ‘Customer Feedback Program’ folder may vary.

lenovocustomerfeedbackprogram
(click to enlarge)

To clarify the last pool which is clearly showing what Lenovo Customer Feedback is uploading, I will explain report suite ‘Lenovo Device Metrics’.

The ‘Lenovo Device Metrics’ report suite is basically logging all information about the battery’s health. This goes as far as cycle count, designed capacity, full capacity, wear, battery temperature, battery model, computer model, …

The information of the battery is sent by default every 90 days. So Lenovo will be able to identify if certain battery models have a faster wear out rate than usual or if there are defects with that battery. In the report may also be included when you unplug the power adapter and start working on battery to identify and classify your behavior with a certain battery wear out rate. By doing so, Lenovo may be able to start a battery recall much earlier. Also you may not want your battery to catch fire. So the fact that they are tracking this is good.

Video

Also make sure to watch this video with my analysis:

Conclusion

Did this article help you feel safe and understand what is being tracked? Let us know in the comments. If you have questions, we will do our best to get some answers.

One Comment

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.