Many spyware infections happen on specifically prepared websites. These websites might exploit web browser vulnerabilities or offer software and files for download that infect a computer system once they are executed on it. Web users have several protection mechanisms that they can use to protect their computer system from these spyware infections. Modern antivirus software usually comes with modules that blocks or warns a user whenever a website with questionable content is visited. Another option to protect a computer system against spyware infections is to install browser plugins like Web of Trust that classify websites and report a safety rating back to the user.
And then there are programs like Inoculate that use the hosts file of the operating system to block spyware websites from being opened by routing the address of the spyware website to the local computer system (which means the website will not be displayed when the user tries to open it).
Inoculate is a portable software program for the Windows operating system that will add more than 14000 spyware websites to the Windows host file. These 14000 spyware websites are blocked from being accessed by users of the computer system. The software creates a backup of the current host file before it begins to add the spyware websites to it so that spyware attacks and spyware programs are automatically blocked.
It is possible to reset the Windows hosts file or restore a previously created backup. One slight disadvantage of this spyware blocking approach is that it is not possible to view the spyware websites before they are added to the hosts file. Another problem is that the program is not automatically updating the spyware list over the Internet which alternatives like Hostsman which offers four different block lists and auto updating. Hostsman on the other hand is not a portable software program.
It would be nice if the developer of Inoculate would add an auto update option and the ability to load different hosts file lists into the application.
Update: Inoculate is no longer available on the Internet.
Advertising revenue is falling fast across the Internet, and independently-run sites like Ghacks are hit hardest by it. The advertising model in its current form is coming to an end, and we have to find other ways to continue operating this site.
We are committed to keeping our content free and independent, which means no paywalls, no sponsored posts, no annoying ad formats or subscription fees.
If you like our content, and would like to help, please consider making a contribution:
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.