When Microsoft Security Essentials is installed on a computer with Windows 7, you automatically become a member of the Microsoft Security Essentials and Microsoft Defender community and grant Microsoft the ability to automatically collaborate with the your computer through Microsoft SpyNet.
Installing one of the programs adds the user automatically to a membership group which tracks program related activities and how threats are handled on the computer.
Microsoft uses the information to gain a better understanding of threats, and to improve the handling of threats for all users of the applications.
Update: Please note that Microsoft has modified how SpyNet is enabled on user systems in recent versions. You can now disable SpyNet during setup, so that you won't become a member automatically.
Besides gathering activity related information, it is also monitoring the Microsoft Security Essentials and Microsoft Defender services to make sure they are running properly on the computer system.
Microsoft Security Essentials offers two types of membership to users: basic and advanced. From basic members, SpyNet obtains information such as the origin of the software, the actions taken by Microsoft Security Essentials or the user, as well as whether the actions were helpful or not. Action in this regard means how detected files were handled, e.g. quarantined.
It also collects some personal activity information. As an advanced member, in addition to the personal information, SpyNet also sends information such as hardware or software type, IP addresses, web browser, operating system, and so on.
Though Microsoft does not use this information for any other purpose, some of you might not wish to have your personal information floating out there for others to see.
Below you will find the information that you need to get access to all of the functionality of Microsoft Security Essentials and Microsoft Defender without having to share your personal details.
You can use the following two methods:
Blocking SpyNet by Changing Registry Entries
Here you will need to change the following Registry entries on your computer using the Registry Editor. Do this by following these simple steps:
The dialog box should look like figure 2.
After selecting 0 as the value, the Microsoft SpyNet screen will look like the snapshot as in figure 4. Note that both membership options are not selected.
Blocking SpyNet Using Host Files
Both Microsoft Security Essentials and Windows Defender use the following domains to communicate with the Microsoft server:
Modify your hosts file by adding the following addresses:
You can find the hosts file at the following location: C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc
Open the file using Notepad and follow the instructions given in the file.
This procedure will not affect your spyware definitions or the program's ability to update.
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.