Blocking MS Telemetry in HOSTS File Now Triggers Windows Defender Virus Warning

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A modern change to Microsoft Windows’ designed-in anti-virus scanner, Windows Defender, has left the OS throwing false positives linked to the HOSTS file. The hosts file can be made use of to translate URL names like “www.google.com” to a certain IP address and originated in the pretty early web, at a time when maintaining an individually-curated record of legitimate host addresses wasn’t challenging to do on a for every-node basis.

The hosts file can be made use of to block malware and spyware web sites but it does so globally and it would make no try to meaningfully assess if a world wide web address is really serving malware or unwanted articles. It’s a go / no go filter, and web sites on the “no go” aspect of items are not receiving accessed.

I have made use of hosts file blocking before as component of my own AV protections and I can ensure that while you can download any quantity of modified hosts data files from the web, you generally have to customise it additional to stay clear of blocking articles that you want to see. Blocking specific web sites will protect against automobile-play films from activating, but it will also protect against you from observing online video you truly want to observe delivered above the exact same companies. Even though the hosts file is not a frequent malware concentrate on, it has been made use of as component of malware attacks in the past, generally to deny the stop person the potential to take a look at security web sites. While there are no modern illustrations of hosts data files being abused in this trend of which I’m conscious, it has transpired in the past.

Numerous on the internet sources state Microsoft has modified Windows Defender so that it precisely checks to see if a hosts file has been updated to block Microsoft’s telemetry servers. What is a minor odd about this is that the OS has apparently executed some degree of examining for pretty some time, as evidenced by this Windows 8 story recommending that people exclude the hosts file from virus scans if they are heading to modify it. The difficulty appears to have gotten worse or resurfaced only just lately, but it was a identified challenge from four years ago.

In accordance to BleepingComputer, they edited their own hosts file in numerous ways with no provoking an outcry from Windows Defender before making an attempt to block MS’ telemetry servers. When they did, the hosts file really refused to help you save, proclaiming they ended up infected with SettingsModifier:Get32/HostsFileHijack:

File by BleepingComputer. Hosts data files are .TXT data files and are not able to have a virus as these are traditionally described.

While you can exclude the hosts file from being scanned, this would feel to ensure that Microsoft now precisely checks to see if you’re attempting to block its telemetry servers — even though it also bypasses the hosts file and communicates right with IP addresses for telemetry reasons. The simple fact that Windows data assortment doesn’t depend solely on the telemetry servers you can block in the hosts file indicates that MS could have tuned Windows Defender in an try to protect against malware from infecting a system in this way as opposed to intentionally making an attempt to protect against stop-people from manually blocking telemetry assortment.

Sad to say, telling a system merely not to scan the hosts file is not a foolproof option, either. In this instance, you can stop MS from yelling at you — but in trade, you won’t know if an additional application has modified your hosts file, either. Ideally, the OS would note that the hosts file had transformed and inquire the stop-person if the change was intentional relatively than power the stop-person to pick in between defending by themselves from malware in this trend or not.

The purpose I’m not absolutely sure this is a shift intended to strengthen Microsoft’s data assortment is straightforward: Microsoft’s telemetry assortment is not blocked by hosts file alterations, so it’s not distinct they’d modify how they deal with the hosts file to make data assortment easier. Most antivirus / antimalware guides don’t precisely suggest a hosts-file based mostly technique, because limitless lists of web sites are a weak way to consider to block malware and because it’s downright frequent to stop up customizing your record to stay clear of blocking web sites you want to be in a position to access.

Either way, you should really be conscious that you could see malware detections in times in advance that don’t really signify a malware an infection. If you have manually modified your hosts file on-goal, you should really look at to make specific the data has not transformed. If it has, tell Windows Defender to exclude scanning the hosts file in the future. Directions on blocking telemetry assortment entirely can be identified below. It demands a lot more than just modifying the hosts file.

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