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How do I prevent software from "phoning home", so to speak?

By Manikle
Jan 9, 2009
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  1. Hello. I am running a PC with Vista Home Premium 64-bit.
    I just bought a program that I want to install on my computer, but I do not want it to have the ability to contact anything via the internet, unless I choose to allow it.

    How can I ensure that it is not ever able to connect to anything via the internet, unless I choose to allow it to?

    For that matter, how do I know when any program is connecting to the internet?
  2. poertner_1274

    poertner_1274 secroF laicepS topShceT Posts: 4,745

    Are you running a software firewall? If so you can disable it within the firewall.

    BTW
    :wave:Welcome to Techspot :wave:
  3. Manikle

    Manikle Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 67

    Thank-you for the welcome and the fast reply.
    What I wasn't sure of is whether or not the software manufacturers create "secondary" programs that automatically install with the main program, in order to ensure that their software communicates with them.
    Hope that doesn't sound too paranoid, but I believe that no software maker is entitled to know what I'm doing with the software that I purchase from them, so long as I am not doing anything illegal.
    In other words, they're not entitled to know whether I install it or I don't.
  4. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Posts: 16,392   +36

    Not paranoid at all- it's called spyware! Any program or application that installs without your knowledge or permission is spyware as far as I'm concerned. And yes, some programs do come bundled with spyware or adware. One frequent offender is some of the weather programs. Games are another source.

    And a TIP for you: always try to download from the home site. You are better protected doing that as some other sites include their own 'spyware' with the downloads.

    And as mentioned, using a firewall and not giving the program internet access rights will also assist.
  5. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 18,353

    What's the program?
    Knowing this might help us help you more, ie some programs have multiple parts trying to "call home"

    Blocking in a firewall is still the best option though
  6. Manikle

    Manikle Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 67

    Thank-you all!
    I used the settings of the firewall to block it.
    Bobbye, that's also a good tip about being careful where you download programs from.
    In this instance, the software was a retail purchase.
  7. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 13,368   +302

    Yes firewall blocking is the right choice --- however;

    With each firewall you get different choices;
    • Control by IP address and/or Port of access
    • Control by application making the request
      • Always allow/deny
      • Choose allow/deny each connection

    If the application elects to use port 80 or 25, then it is piggy-backing the common
    ports for browsers or email and your only real control will be by-application name
  8. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Posts: 16,392   +36

    Keep this tip in mind. I am seeing more and more where download sites have pre-checked some toolbar and the user doesn't catch it when downloading. It's usually easier to prevent that get rid of!

    The ZoneAlarm Spyblocker has the Ask Toolbar with it!
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