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Windows 8.1 constantly calling home

Windows 8
By stansfield
Apr 25, 2014
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  1. Using TCPview, I find that explorer.exe maintains two constant https links to wns.windows.com. If I try to delete these links they are immediately restored. Anyone know reason for them and how to get rid of them. I have disabled the store.
     
  2. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 13,734   +382

    You can always add
    127.0.0.1 wns.windows.com
    to your \windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts

    to make this effective you need to then use
    ipconfig /flushdns
    net stop "dns client"
    net start "dns client"

    CAVEAT EMPTOR: I have no idea of other consequences of denying access to wns.windows.com
     
  3. Mugsy

    Mugsy TS Maniac Posts: 437

    It appears to be a link to Microsoft's "Push" server for updating the Start page feeds.

    The connection persists even if you have no active tiles. Not sure how much bandwidth it siphons.
     
  4. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 13,734   +382

    Ok, but PUSH services require the user have a process ready to accept the data, in this case, the existing connection to wns.windows.com. If there's no connection, MS can't push (at least using this connection).
     
  5. stansfield

    stansfield TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 45   +7

    Jobeard, Thanks will try that. Will also try blocking ip range by other means and also include other explorer.exe intrusions(there's also one called markmanager). After Snowdens revelations I want to know who is accessing my computer especially when I am not even browsing.
     
    Archean likes this.
  6. dduttonnc

    dduttonnc TS Rookie

    No one is ever "accessing" your computer unless a few conditions are met

    1: You are careless and get infected by a virus, worm, trogan, etc
    2: You have given EXPLICIT permission to Dell or MS, etc to log in remotely and help troubleshoot issues (usually you must go to a special website and download an Active X control or special program)
    3: You set up drive/folder sharing and botch the permissions
    4: Windows has a security hole, and you haven't set windows to update each night OR (if you are like me and hate this because some updates cause more issues than they fix.. you manually install updates at least once a month)
    5: You have set up Remote access on your computer and 1) your account doesn't have a PW - in which case Remote access will refuse to even use it... 2) You do something REALLY stupid and set the guest or everyone account access to RA.

    But for the most part... as long as your router has a cheesy SPI Firewall AND you either use Windows firewall, that will keep a lot of the baddies out. You can use your own firewall.. but the Windows Metro store REQUIRES the MS firewall be running or it will not let you download or update any metro apps. Usually the Windows firewall is enough... PLUS you add REALTIME anti virus, anti threat... Lavasoft Adware is a GREAT program for 20-30$... It will scan any file in realtime that a virus, etc can infect, and you can also set it to scan all running processes just in case something gets by the RT file scanning. Plus you can have it scan incoming mail in Outlook or the built in Windows email app. It also can monitor network connections (it's not a firewall). It monitors the opening and closing of ports, etc - basically looking for 2 things: 1) A program doing something it SHOULD NOT, 2) someone attempting to hack into your computer, and it can be set to shut down your network card if you so desire.. and that instantly ends any attack..

    That's about it... it's pretty darn hard for someone to "watch" what you are doing unless they monitor your cable modem, etc (in the cases of fiber connections, no modem exists. Usually it's fiber converter to ethernet and your ISP installs a 4-8 port hub which you can run direct connections or your own router or wifi+router off of)... basically someone snoops your public IP address.... and TBH.. most "hackers" don't.. the avg person is not THAT interesting... and anything important is established using 128bit encryption (certain types of email, protected websites, etc)

    The whole Snowden thing really does NOT apply here. AT BEST all our government could do is MONITOR your public IP address and DECRYPT your encrypted sites you go to. However, there are ways to even put THAT to an end. You can use a public VPN and encrypt ALL your data... Everything that leaves your PC is in an encrypted "tunnel" to the VPN server... beyond that is NOT encrypted.. however, it's anonymous.. the govt would know you are using one.. but if you use one that is in a country that doesn't have an agreement with the US to release info... then your data is safe.. they would have to break the encryption you use... and the longer the encryption passkey is the harder it is to break.. but nothing is unbreakable. I DO NOT - I REPEAT DO NOT say this to encourage people to use VPN servers to do anything illegal. I offer a way because unless there is a COURT ORDER to monitor what you do, the govt has NO RIGHT to monitor what you do.. and I blatantly disregard most of the Patriot Act that gives our govt way to much power w/o a court order... It's really time the govt repealed that Act. Unless there is OVERWHELMING evidence you are doing something wrong (probable cause), they need a court order. There is also nothing illegal with using a VPN... you have a perfect right to encrypt all your internet traffic. But if you do it to do illegal stuff.. then you deserve to get caught. However, the government can NOT watch your screen as if they had a 2nd monitor unless they got a court order or somehow were to sneak into your house or office and install it .... and they could care LESS about the AVG person. You have to DO or SAY something bad enough to get the FBI, CIA, etc attention to watch you. Heck even this post could cause them to watch me for a time.. my thoughts: I could care less... why? I don't do illegal things... and anything I do on the internet, I wouldn't care WHO found out. I don't even look at porn (does nothing for me). But I am 100% allowed to disagree with WHAT our govt does and still be patriotic. But I don't 100% disagree. I disagree with some things.. and other things I agree. Do I use VPN servers? nope. why not? 1) they slow things down, 2) I don't have anything to hide, and 3) I don't care who knows what I do. Even if you don't have anything to hide... you still have a right to privacy and to encrypt your DATA.

    Now one thing that CAN red flag you are highly suspicious Google/yahoo searches: searching for stuff thats illegal involving minor, how to make something that goes boom, how to make toxic stuff... I believe google and yahoo actually BLOCK those searches.. but if you do make that search... then yes.. red flag. AND YOU GET your IP monitored... and RIGHTFULLY SO....

    Windows may keep a constant lock on Microsoft, but that's due to the metro interface. Even if you have not bought any apps, the default ones still run, and they maintain a constant contact to MS usually via explorer. MS has been REPEATEDLY sued in the 90s .. and no longer monitors certain things (like a list of all the programs you have installed)...

    Even windows update does not SEND anything to MS except that it checks your license is valid.. beyond that, it DOWNLOADS the catalog of updates and YOUR computer decides what it needs and sends a list of what it whats. MS has been VERY careful (again due to lawsuits) to make sure virtually NOTHING gets sent to MS during/for Windows Updates. All the update server needs to know is: is this a valid/legal version, and WINDOWS itself tells the server that... the server doesn't make that determination like it used to in the days of Windows 9X and Windows 2000.

    Ive had a computer since the first PCs came out in the 90s. Ive had computers even pre 90s, but they were non standard like the Amiga 500, 1200 and other brands (Tandy Color Computer 2).... My point is.. I've gone so far as to go onto the internet, give out my PUBLIC ip address and challenge anyone to hack my machine (not a DDOS attack because a blind monkey can do those)... but challenged people to hack my PC and get a certain file (I even posted the name of the file).. and see if someone could post the contents...

    My PC was POUNDED for 2 weeks solid.... and that's about all that happened. Of course I made sure there was nothing on the PC that could be stolen if they were successful. My PC never got hacked. My internet connection was slowed by 50% due to the activity of the hackers..To this day, I've NEVER had my personal computer hacked or get infected (all infections were stopped)... When I worked as a network engineer... no one ever hacked any company I worked for.... however, we did get hit with viruses now and then.. it was the late 90s and often a virus would come out, and it would take days or hours to get new definitions to clean/prevent it... Usually an employee would open an infected Word, excel or exe/com file... it'd be a new virus and the desktop RT scanner didn't catch it... the scanner for the MS exchange server didn't catch it, and neither did the RT monitoring on the servers catch it... Id be at my desk and suddenly the MS exchange server's RAID 5 arrays would start THRASHING.... and then I'd get 100 emails from the employee(s) who opened a file they should not have. Once heuristic scanning was made possible.. this all came to a halt.

    But my main point: NO ONE is sitting there WATCHING what you do.. they do not see your screen and watch you move the mouse, etc EXCEPT (this is an addition to the above list): you work for a company that installs monitoring software onto your computer OR you allow MS, DELL, etc to TEMPORARILY control your PC - the software is deleted when they are done... OR you get a NASTY keylogging virus that can vary from recording all keystrokes to actually displaying your screen (in real-time to a hacker).... but if you have good AV software, keep it up to date.. the chances ARE RARE.. one last possibility: you are a MINOR and your parents install monitoring software. I am a parent, and if my kids were younger, yes - I'd know every place they went on the net and in life... and EVERYTHING in the house would have parental controls enabled.

    Id be more afraid of WEBSITES like google and Amazon which track what you buy and profile you psychologically, etc.. then they sell that data... I buy from amazon all the time... I know what types of data are collected.. and I could care less.

    Again... you either have to MESS UP or DIRECTLY give permission for someone to access your computer... or in some RARE cases.. hacker(s) target your PC and find an exploit.. but most countermeasures will stop most "hackers" out there.... it's the super geniuses, Id be afraid of.. but they don't go messing with the AVERAGE person.

    So keep a firewall on your home router.. and NEVER use your ISPs modem/router/wifi combo device. You should use your OWN router with the modem in BRIDGE MODE (meaning it's just a DUMMY device to let your router get an IP addy, DCHP, DNS and route information from). Use the SPI firewall on your router, the DDOS protection, and REFUSE to respond to PINGs on the WAN port (helps prevent DDOS because you can't get ping flooded). Put a combo security system on your computer (like I mentioned above)... Do all that.. and your credit card info, your files, etc are DARN safe.You would have to be a TARGET, and even then, they have to break through all that. If a GENIUS Targets your PC.... well... they can get through about anything :)

    ... lastly.. the best defense: If you aren't using your computer, power it off... wha'ts off can not be accessed or hacked :) I know some people who TURN OFF their router when they don't need the internet. I don't do that.. but that sure makes you a pain in the butt to hack because they can only hack while you are online


    sorry for the LONG LONG LONG Post... but there is WAY too much paranoia out there...and it's only valid if YOU do not take care of your PC... and if you don't know HOW... pay the Geek Squad at best buy if you must (they are a joke IMO.. but better if you don't know anything or very little and lack a friend in life - like myself who can secure you for free).
     

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