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Last post Author Topic: Stop Windows from calling home  (Read 21654 times)

Curt

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Stop Windows from calling home
« on: June 23, 2007, 03:20:18 AM »
Some Advanced End Users and System Administrators may like this little tool:

XPY (for XP): http://xpy.whyeye.org/
Vispa (for Vista): http://vispa.whyeye.org/

Quote
Small tool which disables the default threats of a Windows XP installation. Besides disabling Windows and some of its components to communicate with Microsoft servers, xpy improves privacy settings and your system’s security.

Features:
• Disable Windows “calling home”
• Disable questionable services
• Disarm Internet Explorer
• Disarm Windows Media Player
• Remove Windows Messenger
• Improve privacy and security
• Improve performance

xpy.GIF
vispa.png


Though xpy is smaller than 60 kilobytes, it can close serious threats (i.e. DCOM) on long distance, where large service-packs can only protect you until a new security hole has been found.

http://sourceforge.net/projects/xpy/

Quote from: MajorGeek
xpy is a small tool which disables the default threats of a windows xp installation. Besides the classic antispy features, xpy closes recent security holes like the remote procedure call (rpc) service and the distributed component object model (dcom).
http://www.majorgeek...om/download4218.html

nite_monkey

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Re: Stop Windows from calling home
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2007, 04:27:32 AM »
sounds handy, I'm going to check it out, thanks.
[Insert really cool signature here]

Veign

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Re: Stop Windows from calling home
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2007, 10:36:02 AM »
Good find...

Nighted

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Re: Stop Windows from calling home
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2007, 12:57:54 PM »
This look very similar to xp-AntiSpy. I will try this and compare.
I`m a firm believer in the philosophy of a ruling class, especially since I rule.

wasker

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Re: Stop Windows from calling home
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2007, 09:43:06 AM »
Quote
Small tool which disables the default threats of a Windows XP installation. Besides disabling Windows and some of its components to communicate with Microsoft servers, xpy improves privacy settings and your system’s security.

Features:
• Disable Windows “calling home”
• Disable questionable services
• Disarm Internet Explorer
• Disarm Windows Media Player
• Remove Windows Messenger
• Improve privacy and security
• Improve performance

• Crash my Windows at some random time and blame Gates for the lame software.

Dr-Leech

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Re: Stop Windows from calling home
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2007, 03:34:33 PM »
Nice tool!

Thanks

Curt

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Re: Stop Windows from calling home
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2007, 06:21:14 PM »
This look very similar to xp-AntiSpy. I will try this and compare.

xp-Antispy 3.96.5.final is ready for download and will now run a lot better on Vista.

Quote
XP-AntiSpy is a little utility that let's you disable some built-in update and authetication 'features' in WindowsXP. For example, there's a service running in the background wich is called 'Automatic Updates'. I don't know what this service transfers from my machine to other machines on the internet, especially the MS ones. So I play it safe and disable such functions. If you like, you can even disable these function manually, by going through the System and checking or unchecking some checkboxes. This will take you approximately half an hour. But why wasting time when a little neat utility can do the same in 1 minute? This utility was successfully tested by lots of users, and was found to disable all the known 'Suspicious' Functions in WindowsXP.
AntiSpy.gif
Quote
Relating to the last beta version, i basically changed the behaviour when running on Vista.
So far, when running the xp-AntiSpy on Vista it automatically started requiering administrative rights, you recognize that by the dialog thats pops up and asks for your permission. This is part of Windows Vista and is called User Account Control. I decided that it's better to let the xp-AntiSpy start with normal user privilleges, and get administrative rights only when it's needed.

So if you just want to check if every setting is in sync with the profile, you do not need to be administrator to do that.

http://xp-antispy.or...y/Itemid,26/lang,en/
http://www.majorgeek...om/download2062.html


peter.licht

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Re: Stop Windows from calling home
« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2009, 06:19:06 AM »
Just downloaded xpy.
Excellent recommendation! Thanks!

--
Peter Licht

y0himba

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Re: Stop Windows from calling home
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2009, 09:12:10 AM »
The program works and does what it is supposed to do, but the question is, why?

I have never understood the reason for stopping or limiting these options and services.  I don't see the privacy concern?  I purchased and own my copy of Windows, so what is the issue?  The only thing there I would consider stopping because of security or privacy is the Remote Registry Service, which is set to "manual" by default.  I would stop Windows Defender because it is useless and a resource hog, not due to privacy or security. Even then, I can open my services control panel and disable those services then remove the startup entries.

I want Windows to Auto Update, latest security fixes, no identifiable information sent.

Disable "questionable services".  Such as?  With the advent of service pack 2 for XP, many services were put into manual mode.  This carried over into Vista and also 7.  Which services does the author find "questionable" and what exactly is it disabling?  Why are they "questionable"?  "Oh no! The evil MS might know my time zone! The horror!"    

Disarm Internet Explorer?  How exactly? What is the software disarming?  You can choose not to allow IE to send usage statistics, not to check web sites, not to check for updates right in the options.  You can even change the default search engine and tell it not to use suggestions from your chosen engine. Other than the usage statistics(which are non-identifiable) there is nothing there that is a risk or privacy concern.  

Disarm Windows Media Player?  Again, right in the options, there is the ability to tell WMP not to check for updates, send usage statistics, not update media information.  I see no reason to disable any of these except maybe the usage statistics(which are non-identifiable).  You can disable the running of scripts and more, right in the options, for the super paranoid who buy into the "He-Man Microsoft Haters" or "Evil Microsoft Knows My every Move" hype.

Remove Windows Messenger?  Why?  What if you want to use it so that you can utilize all of the communication features it offers instead of a client that can IM or smiley, but no AV chat?  What privacy risk does this pose?  What security risk? Know who you are chatting to, and don't download or open anything you are unsure of. Just tell it not to run in the background, and not to start with the computer so you can use it on demand.  At best, you can patch it to not display adverts.

I could go on, but the only problem I see with privacy is if someone has an illegal copy of Windows.  I think one should examine what data is being transmitted and do a bit of research.  It is really annoying to see programs like this that rely on the uneducated paranoia and viral web hype.  if it were touted as a tweaker, and freed up resources, that is a bit different, but this one promotes itself by telling you that Microsoft is invading your privacy by offering you free automatic updates, updating your time, trying to defend against malware, checking web sites to see if they are harmful, allowing you to work on a friend's registry remotely, updating music.
My Web Site:  http://www.y0himba.net
« Last Edit: December 26, 2009, 09:14:44 AM by y0himba »

Stoic Joker

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Re: Stop Windows from calling home
« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2009, 12:30:45 PM »
(To big to quote, but) I'm with y0himba on this one.

Shades

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Re: Stop Windows from calling home
« Reply #10 on: December 26, 2009, 01:48:10 PM »
Disabling the services and other stuff with Xpy (or similar software) is a good thing in my book.

How many times should MS be informed about my system and what I do with it? Only once to see if my copy of Windows is legal. All the other communication is rather pointless and only benefits MS not me. Now you can claim that feedback will result in higher quality software, but I think that when you adhere to the software and hardware standards set by the whole industry the problems you will encounter will be never be as high as when you do things your way. A thing MS is known to do.   

Did you check each time exactly what info is phoned home to MS? Or do you take their word for it? IIRC the newsletter Windows Secrets has reported several times that this info was not neutral and forced Microsoft to adjust their policies regarding the hoarding of info. Granted, this was all some time ago, but that should not be a reason to become complacent and let them revert back to their old ways.

Furthermore ,Windows messenger should be shot down on sight if you ask me, third party software is better,safer and has more features. Hence it is useless.
Same is true for Windows Media Player, especially version 9, 10 and 11 on XP. Since I don't have any experience with higher versions I will not say anything about those. But if their layout is created by the same person(s) who did 9, 10 or 11, they should be shamed into suicide for doing such a miserable job GUI-wise.   

Guess I don't have to mention that a tool as nLite and Xpy have improved my computing life drastically. (Xpy on already installed systems and nLite for new stripped systems). After all, what is not there cannot break. And disabling some services reduces network "noise" considerably. If you have to transfer files like I have to (60GByte Oracle dump files) over a network which does not change on a regular basis, all services that poll for any change on any system in the network are useless for all my intends and purposes. Less noise means faster transferring of data. The earlier mentioned dump file takes 17 minutes to transfer on a 100MBit network. 

Granted, the printer tool made by Stoic Joker will likely only work partially at best on my network...but hey, such is life (sorry Stoic Joker :(). With all those PC users out there you can bet that there are a lot of them that want to filter out (some of) the noise generated by running background services. There a lot of legit reasons besides catching the illegal copy.

Eóin

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Re: Stop Windows from calling home
« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2009, 02:28:56 PM »
Now you can claim that feedback will result in higher quality software, but I think that when you adhere to the software and hardware standards set by the whole industry the problems you will encounter will be never be as high as when you do things your way. A thing MS is known to do

Care to elaborate?

f0dder

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Re: Stop Windows from calling home
« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2009, 02:36:18 PM »
Furthermore ,Windows messenger should be shot down on sight if you ask me, third party software is better,safer and has more features. Hence it is useless.
Safer? care to elaborate? And can you point out a MSN replacement that supports webcams?

I'm on pidgin myself, because MS shut down support for older MSN versions, and I can't stand the most recent version... but I wouldn't call pidgin or miranda better or safer, really.
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Stoic Joker

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Re: Stop Windows from calling home
« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2009, 02:42:22 PM »
Granted, the printer tool made by Stoic Joker will likely only work partially at best on my network...but hey, such is life (sorry Stoic Joker :().
Sorry? Really... For What? ...Making assumptions about a program without having tried it? There is no "polling" cycle, the data is collected, displayed, done. The traffic generated during the (typically 14 second) scan is (with packets that are payload-less TCP overhead only) virtually none.

I have no problem with tweaking utilities (which this is), I even use a few from time to time. I just find the tone of its pitch as a privacy repair tool a bit over the top & foolish. Disabling the time service is absurd. You want to pick a different time server, fine. ...But good luck maintain reliable communication in a Windows Domain environment without it (Hint: Kerberos...).

Some of the noise is necessary, some is not, and blanket assumption/assertions are extremely dangerous if the what & why are not fully understood. ...Just look at nLites track record for leaving people with broken and dysfunctional systems because they didn't quite fully understand what they were being asked while Uber stripping there install.

There are no "Magic Bullets" for Privacy/Security and anything that perpetuates the rumor that there is ... is dangerous.

Stoic Joker

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Re: Stop Windows from calling home
« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2009, 02:45:50 PM »
Furthermore ,Windows messenger should be shot down on sight if you ask me, third party software is better,safer and has more features. Hence it is useless.
Safer? care to elaborate? And can you point out a MSN replacement that supports webcams?
I'm curious on that one myself, but I've found Skype to be acceptable for video calls. *Shrug* ...Just a thought.

Tuxman

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Re: Stop Windows from calling home
« Reply #15 on: December 26, 2009, 02:51:21 PM »
ZOMG paranoia...

BTW, Skype is insecure and has known backdoors every few versions. Not a good thing, is it?

f0dder

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Re: Stop Windows from calling home
« Reply #16 on: December 26, 2009, 03:12:47 PM »
Furthermore ,Windows messenger should be shot down on sight if you ask me, third party software is better,safer and has more features. Hence it is useless.
Safer? care to elaborate? And can you point out a MSN replacement that supports webcams?
I'm curious on that one myself, but I've found Skype to be acceptable for video calls. *Shrug* ...Just a thought.
Skype is probably fine, but that (obviously :)) doesn't use the MSN protocol, and thus doesn't really apply here. I'm sure there's plenty of apps that do video/voice chats better than MSN, but not everybody are willing to install yet another app... besides, my point was that Shades claim there's plenty of replacements that are better/have more features, yet I haven't found one that has webcam support :)
- carpe noctem

Shades

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Re: Stop Windows from calling home
« Reply #17 on: December 26, 2009, 03:54:52 PM »
Here in the Americas the MSN network is not that popular, GoogleTalk is more reliable over the connections we have here. Internet is definitely not as developed and cheap as in the US and Europe. At least not that many people here use a webcam for communication and if they do, it is Skype what people use (to call to Spain), since it is not too much trouble to change from VOIP to standard telephone through their network. My suggestion would be my personal favorite Pidgin as alternative, although people here in Paraguay use Spark a lot.

@ Stoic Joker:
Now I do have a reason to be sorry about shooting my mouth off regarding your software without trying it myself.  :-[

shobazi

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Re: Stop Windows from calling home
« Reply #18 on: January 02, 2010, 06:51:42 PM »
sounds interesting..I will check it out..Thanks for the interesting post..

Innuendo

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Re: Stop Windows from calling home
« Reply #19 on: January 04, 2010, 04:18:22 PM »
Not sure how anyone got off the topic of the OP, but I'll chime in here....looking at those screen shots show some crazy options!

Disable Automatic Windows Updates - Are you kidding me? Bug fixes, feature additions, and fixing vulnerabilities are unappealing to people?

Disable Time Synchronization - Adverse to your PC keeping precise time by the use of communicating with The Atomic Clock?

Disable Scheduled Task Service - Sometimes very important programs use this service to make sure tasks are carried out when needed.

Disable RPC Locator - If your PC is on a network and you do not know what you are doing turn this one on at your peril.

Disable Windows Defender - Oh, come on...may as well disable your AV, your anti-malware, and firewall while you're at it.

Disable Windows Firewall - And there it is!


I see programs like this and I am reminded of a job I had a few years ago & a co-worker decided to run one of these programs on his work PC. What the program did in 30 seconds took us over an hour to undo so his computer could see and connect to the computer network again.

Windows doesn't call home. It does, however, contact numerous web sites (some owned by Microsoft) to ensure that you have a safe, secure, and optimal computing experience.


Tuxman

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Re: Stop Windows from calling home
« Reply #20 on: January 04, 2010, 04:23:56 PM »
Disable Windows Firewall - And there it is!
How many reasons why the Windows "Firewall" is neither a firewall nor of any use would be enough to convince you that disabling it is a good idea? I think I could find dozens of them.

Josh

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Re: Stop Windows from calling home
« Reply #21 on: January 04, 2010, 04:48:46 PM »
Tuxman: I would like to see those reasons backed by some sort of evidence documenting them as valid. The windows firewall might not be as advanced as some, the Windows vista/7 one is quite advanced and powerful, but it does far more than any average home user will ever need at protecting them.

So please, post some examples because I am quite interested to see what you deem a valid reason to disable it.

Tuxman

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Re: Stop Windows from calling home
« Reply #22 on: January 04, 2010, 04:57:06 PM »
A "personal firewall" (basic packet filtering, user-controlled, which should be enough reason to doubt its usefulness) does not actually act as a firewall.

1. It can not detect if "explorer.exe" is really "explorer.exe" when asking you if explorer.exe may access the internet.
2. It is not that hard to write a script which automatically clicks "Allow".
3. It is behind your internet connection, so any packets passing it are already on your computer.
4. ... if they pass it anyway (there is always a way to create your own, independent TCP connections).
5. A virus, worm or trojan runs with your own user privileges, so it can easily disable your PFW completely.

Now what is the point in using something like that which also depends on the user's own "Brain 1.0"?
If you actually use software from dubious sources and click unknown links (the only ways to get infected), you'll fail anyway. A "personal firewall" can not help you.

Josh

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Re: Stop Windows from calling home
« Reply #23 on: January 04, 2010, 05:02:50 PM »
1. It can not detect if "explorer.exe" is really "explorer.exe" when asking you if explorer.exe may access the internet.

That is an application change detector. Firewalls filter internet connections, they do not check checksum values or file integrity by nature. Some advanced firewalls ADD THIS FEATURE ON but it is not something that most do. Do iptables or other *nix variants do this? Do they check integrity of files?

Quote
2. It is not that hard to write a script which automatically clicks "Allow".

And this can be done with just about ANY firewall application...

Quote
3. It is behind your internet connection, so any packets passing it are already on your computer.

This acts as a host-level firewall. If the user has a home router, which most do and most provide some basic firewalling functions, how can this additional layer be bad? There is a reason the US Military has mandated the use of HIDS on all systems using the "Defense in depth" strategy and protection at the lowest level (host).

Quote
4. ... if they pass it anyway (there is always a way to create your own, independent TCP connections).

I am really not sure what you are getting at here.

Quote
5. A virus, worm or trojan runs with your own user privileges, so it can easily disable your PFW completely.

And again, this can be done to ANY firewall product and it is not the firewalls job to prevent malware from getting onto the system. It filters traffic. Again, some firewalls add application layer filtering, malware and spyware checkers, but not all. So, if you install something bad, then chances are your firewall is the last thing you need to worry about.
Now what is the point in using something like that which also depends on the user's own "Brain 1.0"?
If you actually use software from dubious sources and click unknown links (the only ways to get infected), you'll fail anyway. A "personal firewall" can not help you.
[/quote]

Tuxman

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Re: Stop Windows from calling home
« Reply #24 on: January 04, 2010, 05:19:29 PM »
Quote
2. It is not that hard to write a script which automatically clicks "Allow".

And this can be done with just about ANY firewall application...
You see?

if you install something bad, then chances are your firewall is the last thing you need to worry about.
Indeed. So again: What is your reason to call the Windows Firewall "useful"? For what purpose?