Stop Windows 7 Microsoft SpyNet to alleviate privacy concerns

Windows 7 comes built-in with a SpyNet service (connected to Windows Defender and Microsoft Security Essentials) that logs various data related to these programs and sends them to Microsoft.

Although the name sounds like a dangerous “Big Brother” spying program from Microsoft, it isn’t quite as dangerous (at least on the outset).

SpyNet runs automatically if you use the recommended option “Help protect your computer and improve Windows automatically” during install. Data typically connected include those about malicious software detected, its source and actions performed against it by the user or by security programs. Worryingly, Microsoft admits that personal information might also be sent. They do say that it will not be used to identify the user. If you are worried about the personal data, belwo are the steps to disable Microsoft SpyNet for good.

For Windows Defender
Bring up Windows Defender (type first few letters of it in Start > search box). Go to Tools > Microsoft SpyNet. In the resulting screen, change the setting to “I don’t want to join Microsoft SpyNet at this time”.

For MS Security Essential
If you have Microsoft Security Essentials, disabling SpyNet has to be done manually in the form of editing a Windows registry.

Open Registry editor (Start > regedit in search box). Navigate to the location below using left pane:
Hkey_LocaL_Machine\Software\Microsoft\Microsoft Antimalware\SpyNet\

Double click the value SpyNetReporting and change its value to 0 to disable SpyNet.

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