How to stop Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10 from spying on you

Posted by & filed under , .

Quick how-to

Extremely quick how-to for computer savvy people. But read on for a detailed version.

  1. Install all the Windows Update until there’s no more to install
  2. Go here: https://github.com/WindowsLies/BlockWindows
  3. Click Download ZIP at the middle-right to download the file
  4. Unzip the file
  5. Double-click the file DisableWifiSense.reg
  6. Double-click the file hosts.bat
  7. Right-click the file BlockWindows.bat and select Run as administrator
  8. Reboot your computer
  9. Go in Windows Update and hide all the updates (you might have to install the Windows Update software first though)
  10. Click “Check for updates” and continue to hide all the updates until there’s no more updates

Why does it matter if Microsoft spy?

Internet spying is an abstract concept, it’s not that easy to understand the issue. You must not think about it on a person-basis level but on a society level.

Here’s a great article which is very brief which will explain it:
http://eightgreat.com/lifestyle/security-protection/reasons-why-spying-is-bad-for-the-world

Here’s a more lengthy article but explains it in better details:
https://chronicle.com/article/Why-Privacy-Matters-Even-if/127461

Even more articles that discuss the issue:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-van-buren/a-childs-guide-to-why-nsa_b_3403714.html

http://patch.com/california/gilroy/why-do-i-care-abut-government-spying-i-have-nothing-to-hide

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/06/07/2120141/why-the-nsas-secret-online-surveillance-should-scare-you

http://www.dvorak.org/blog/2013/06/11/10-reasons-why-government-spying-is-a-bad-idea

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/04/02/dangers-of-surveillance-privacy-expert-reviews-why-increased-spying-is-bad

Daniel J. Solove even wrote a whole book on this which is called Nothing to Hide: The False Tradeoff between Privacy and Security.

These informations doesn’t talk about Microsoft specifically but it’s all the same since we now know that Microsoft, Google, Apple, FaceBook, your internet company and a lot more are now sending informations on people’s use of their computer to the government.

What is Microsoft spying on exactly?

In all honesty, nobody knows what informations are sent to the Microsoft server because it is encrypted. We just know that a lot of data is being sent. The new Microsoft Privacy Statement which started on August 1st 2015, is, like any other privacy statement, quite vague when it talks about the information it collects from user. It might not say what data it collects precisely but the Microsoft privacy statement leave the door fully open on anything they want to collect. It really could be anything. Everything you type. Every websites you visit. Every photos you have. Every documents you have.

Here’s some references links on this:
http://thenextweb.com/microsoft/2015/07/29/wind-nos

http://lifehacker.com/what-windows-10s-privacy-nightmare-settings-actually-1722267229

Isn’t Microsoft spying with Windows 10 only and not version 7, 8 or 8.1?

Since Windows 10 has been released on July 29th 2015, Microsoft has slowly released Windows Update that will also track users of Windows 7, 8 and 8.1. It hasn’t been proven that Vista is affected, probably due to the fact that Vista will stop being updated by Microsoft on April 11th 2017. And it’s quite unlikely that older versions of Windows is affected.

Alternatives solutions

Instead of using Windows, you can always use the Apple operating system OS X. As of September 2015, this operating system isn’t as prone as to collects and send data than Windows. There’s just a few steps in OS X you need to do in order to have better privacy.

Another solution is to install Linux. There’s a lot of different versions of Linux which we call distribution. The easiest to install and the one that is also the easiest to use is Linux Mint. The most popular one is Ubuntu but this one doesn’t fully respect people’s privacy, they do collect user’s informations. But if you do install it anyway, there’s also a few steps to fix your privacy in Ubuntu.

Detailed how-to

If you still wish to use Windows, follow these detailed steps on how protect your privacy as much as possible. The whole process is quite easy but takes about 30 minutes since you have to check for windows updates a few times and it takes a few minutes every time.

First step is to install all the Windows Update. Go to your start menu at the bottom left, click on it, click on All Programs and select Windows Update.

windows-start-menu-windows-update

Some Windows Update must be removed but it’s easier to just install everything, then run the automatic script that will remove all unwanted Windows Update afterwards. Make sure the important and optional updates are all installed.

windows-update-important-optional

You might need to reboot depending on which Windows Update you installed. After everything is installed, click “Check for updates” at the left. There might be others you need to install. Do this until there’s no more Windows update found.

windows-microsoft-update

Go to https://github.com/WindowsLies/BlockWindows and click Download ZIP at the right to download the automatic script that will modify your windows. Once downloaded, you need to extract the content, just right-click on the zip file and choose Extract. Go into the folder you just extracted.

Double-click the file “DisableWifiSense.reg”. This, actually, is only for Windows 10 but there’s no harm in using it for other Windows version. It will modify your registry and making sure that your WiFi password is not shared to anyone.

Double-click the file “hosts.bat”. This will modify the file:

C:\Windows\System32\drivers/etc/hosts

It will block a lot of Microsoft internet address that is used to collect data from users.

Right-click the file “BlockWindows.bat” and choose “Run as administrator”. Now a terminal will open removing quite a few Windows Update that are used to track users. Then it will hide some Windows Update so that you will never re-install them again. It will also modify some of your network routing tables, blocking some Microsoft internet address that are used to collect data. It will continue by removing about 20 different tasks. These are programs that can run in the background to track you. Finally, it will stop and disable two services, diagtrack and remoteregistry which can also be used by Microsoft against you.

Note that these 3 files are just text files, you can open them with WordPad or Notepad++ to view their content so you can know exactly what they do.

When this automatic script finish, it will ask you to reboot, just press ENTER or close the window, reboot your computer and go back in the Windows Update.

It’s possible that you have to install the Windows Update Software now. Just click “Install now”.

windows-new-windows-update-software

The automatic script hides some Windows Update that it removed but it doesn’t hide all of them. Since we just installed all the Windows Update in the first step, we can know hide every Windows Update. To do this, click on the important or optional updates link and right-click each of the updates and select Hide. Do this for every update then click “Check for updates”. It will find new ones to hide. Continue to do this until there’s no more Windows update found.

Your computer is now a lot more private than ever. Note that it isn’t full-proof. There might still be data being sent to Microsoft. Also note that Windows might, in the future, add new Windows Update that will collect data on you. The only way to be sure that Windows doesn’t send any kind of information about you is not to use Windows.

Other links

This link will help you to disable a lot of Windows 10 settings to protect your privacy: https://fix10.isleaked.com

These links are just for references: https://blockwindows.wordpress.com

https://github.com/WindowsLies/BlockWindows

https://gitlab.com/windowslies/blockwindows

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

Comments / Questions