Microsoft has been criticized by privacy advocates in regards to the data hunger of its Windows 10 operating system. The operating system slurps data like there is no tomorrow, especially when systems are set up using the express settings.
Experienced users may disable telemetry and data collection partially during setup, and then some more afterwards using the Registry or Group Policy.
What makes this problematic however is the fact that it is nearly impossible to stop all of the data collecting that is taking place.
While users may disable some, for instance by using privacy tools (of which there are plenty), others cannot be disabled or stopped that easily, for instance because of hardcoded host and IP address information that bypass the Hosts file of the operating system.
Windows 7 and 8
Windows 7 and 8 users have been plagued by "upgrade preparation" updates but left alone otherwise up until recently when it comes to this new level of data collecting.
This changed recently with the release of several updates for both operating systems that step up the game.
If these updates are installed on the system, data is sent to Microsoft regularly about various activities on it.
Microsoft lists two host names in KB3068708 that data is received from and sent to:
These, and maybe others, appear to be hardcoded which means that the Hosts file is bypassed automatically.
Please note that it appears that you can block the hosts listed above using firewalls running on the target PC.
What you can do about it
The best way to deal with these updates is to make sure they are not installed. If they have been installed already, you may want to disable them.
You may remove those updates using the Control Panel, or by running the following commands using an elevated command prompt:
It is recommended to "hide" them afterwards so that they are not picked up and installed again on the computer system. (via)
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