The Microsoft Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool is a security program provided by Microsoft that scans computer systems for dozens of common malicious applications. This tool was never meant to replace an existing virus scanner but it offers a quick and easy way to scan and remove popular worms and viruses from a computer system.
It does not offer realtime protection of a system, and it is highly recommended that you run another antivirus software on your system in addition to it.
Advanced users won't rely on this software from Microsoft at all but I suppose it could be useful for inexperienced users or as an additional means of protection. There is however one "feature" that cannot be turned off by normal means. The Malicious Software Removal Tool reports back to a Microsoft server whenever it finishes a scan of the system.
The only way to turn off this option is to create a new Registry key. Open your Registry first, click on Start, Run and type registry in the box. Hit enter and the Registry should appear.
Now navigate to the Registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\MRT and check if it contains a Dword named DontReportInfectionInformation.
If this is not the case you can add it. Right-click the right pane and select New > Dword from the menu. Enter the string DontReportInfectionInformation as the name of the Dword. Double-click it afterwards and set the value of it to 1.
This ensures that the Malicious Software Removal Tool will not report back to Microsoft whenever a scan of the PC finishes.
Update: The program is now a standalone application that is not installed anymore. Since this is the case, it does not add entries to the Windows Registry anymore. One option that you may have to prevent it from phoning home is to block its Internet connections using your firewall.
Just create a new rule in the firewall that blocks the tool from making any outbound connections. To do so tap on the Windows-key, type firewall and hit enter. Select Outbound connections and click on "new rule" on the page that opens up.
Select Program under Rule Type, then the executable file of the Malicious Software Removal Tool in the next step, and in the next step "block the connection". Click next again, add a name for the rule and click finish to save the new firewall rule.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.