Spybot Anti-Beacon

Anti Beacon 1Spybot Anti-Beacon was initially designed to address the privacy concerns of users of Windows 10. They do not want to have information about their PC usage sent to Microsoft by various tracking (telemetry) features. It has since been modified to block similar tracking functionality in the Windows 7 to 8.1 operating systems. It’s simple to use and free of charge, and will also be part of a future Spybot – Search & Destroy.

Simply clicking on ‘Customize’ on the main screen of Anti-Beacon will give you a choice to select your level of privacy. There are various protection presets available: ‘None’ allows all tracking options, and ‘Full’ will disable all known tracking features included in Microsoft’s operating systems. ‘Recommended’ is the setting we prefer. But you may set any single option to permitted or blocked by yourself. Then your individual immunization is established.

It is easy to undo changes or set another level by choosing ‘Customize’ and the new level again. You may also have Anti-Beacon check your protection at every Windows start.

If you want to provide any feedback on Anti-Beacon, please don’t hesitate to send an email to our support or visit our forum and look for Anti-Beacon.

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Anti Beacon 2
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Immunizers

Acer User Experience Improvement Program

Let's read what Acer states about the Acer User Experience (AUE) Improvement Program does:

The Acer User Experience app is used to collect customer behaviors when using Acer PC products and send the information back for further analysis. This aids in improving the user experience and satisfaction of new products or updated versions of existing products.

What Acer does not tell is which data exactly is collected and transmitted, which would be essential for any data collection.

We recommend to disable this immediately if it was pre-installed by Acer on your computer.

Google Chrome Telemetry

Google Chrome can send anonymous (and non-anonymous) usage statistics and crashed-related data to Google.

Quoting Google, they include:

These reports usually won't include any personal information about you, but they might include:

  • Your Chrome settings
  • Where you click
  • How much memory is used by Chrome
  • Web pages you visit that contain phishing or malware
  • Web pages you visit where you've entered text using speech
  • Your device's operating system, manufacturer, and model.
  • If Chrome crashes while you're using it, some personal information might be included. This will depend on what was happening at the time of the crash.

This immunizer sets global group policies to block these. It is is available for users of the Plus version.

HP CEEment

HP CEEment is a telemetry module that is part of HP software.

HP itself describes CEEment as:

CEEment stands for Customer Experience Enhancement. CEEment (HPCEE.exe) is the reporting tool that HP uses to collect and study anonymous data. You can activate CEEment when you set up your computer. Or, you can activate using HP Advisor or HP Support Assistant at any time.

Some of the data reported using CEEment includes your model number, OS, region, locale, and BIOS version. If you wish to know specifically which data was collected, launch HP Support Assistant. Click Settings, scroll down to the bottom of the Health Analysis tab, and then click View information collected by HP.

This immunizer is available for users of the Plus version. It will only be shown within Anti-Beacon if HP CEEment is installed.

HP Touchpoint Analytics

HP Touchpoint Analytics is a telemetry module pre-installed on HP devices.

Reports about this can for example be found on ComputerWorld: HP stealthily installs new spyware called HP Touchpoint Analytics Client. Details on collected data can be found at this AskWoody post and include lists of installed hard- and software.

  • ApplicationsInstalled
  • Battery
  • Biosphere
  • Bios
  • DiskLogical
  • DiskPhysical
  • DiskSelfTest
  • Display
  • DriverCrash
  • EnvironmentVariable
  • Graphics
  • HPBios
  • HPBiosSensors
  • HPITImage
  • HpsaMessages
  • HpsaUpdates
  • InstalledWindowsUpdates
  • MemoryPhysical
  • Memory
  • Network
  • OperatingSystem
  • PnPDevice
  • PnPDriver
  • Processor
  • RealTimeClock
  • Security
  • SmartDrive
  • StorageUsage
  • System
  • SystemSlots
  • SystemStateMonitor
  • SystemState
  • Thermal
  • WebHistory
  • WindowsEvents
  • WindowsProcesses
  • WindowsServices
  • WindowsUpdates

This immunizer is available for users of the Plus version. It will only be shown within Anti-Beacon if HP Touchpoint Analytics is installed.

Lenovo Customer Feedback Program

Lenovo Customer Feedback Program can be preinstalled on Lenovo systems and communicates telemetry data over the Internet.

Lenovo itself describes this telemetry:

In Windows 8, 8.1 and 10, Lenovo may also include an application in the preload called "Lenovo Experience Improvement". This keeps track of what preloaded applications are uninstalled within the first 90 days of system use. The data is uploaded to a server in the United States at various times during the first 90 days. The data does not include any personally identifiable information (PII)

It can be argued that transmitting data always involves IP addresses, which are regarded as PII by many legislations.

This immunizer is available for users of the Plus version. It will only be shown within Anti-Beacon if Lenovo Customer Feedback Program is installed.

Lenovo Experience Improvement

Lenovo Experience Improvement collects telemetry data on Lenovo systems.

The website Should I Remove It? describes it as:

The Lenovo Experience Improvement application is an option program that is pre-installed with various PC models. It is designed to provide feedback to Lenovo about the user's usage and overall experience using the computer by reporting any errors, etc. [...] Regardless if the user decides to participate, the program will install itself in the Startup using the Windows Startup Task Schedule arn will launch on reboot/login. Removing the software is safe and will not effect the functionality of the laptop as it is not required.

This immunizer is available for users of the Plus version. It will only be shown within Anti-Beacon if Lenovo Experience Improvement is installed.

LibreOffice Telemetry

LibreOffice has it's telemetry disabled by default currently, but is able to submit telemetry data to The Document Foundation when set up to do so.

Anti-Beacon 3.1 will display the telemetry option state of LibreOffice, and allows to unset it from within it's user interface.

Microsoft Bing

This immunizer blocks part of Windows' built in telemetry services by blocking IPs (Internet addresses) associated with the telemetry using the Windows Firewall.

Microsoft Biometrics

Windows supports biometric features like fingerprint scanners. You can disable Biometrics using this immunizer, if you feel unsafe about your biometric data on your computer.

Microsoft Clipboard Cloud Sharing

Windows 10 October 2018 update (also called 1809) allows to synchronize your clipboard with the cloud to be able to access it from all machines you are logged into.

While this can be a helpful feature for some, others use password managers to store sensible data, and use the clipboard to paste it into software or websites.

Safer-Networking regards the cloud sharing of clipboard information to be an unnecessary risk. We recommend to use this protection.

Microsoft Cortana

Cortana is Microsofts voice assistant. To be able to give you answers on your personal data, it needs access to it. If you do not intend to use Cortana, we recommend that you use this immunizer to disable it.

Microsoft Cortana Restrictions

This immunizer adds restrictions to Microsofts voice assistant Cortana, including for example blocked access to contacts.

Microsoft Edge Do-Not-Track

This immunizer forces the Microsoft Edge browser to communicate your wish to not be tracked to all visited websites.

It is available in Spybot Anti-Beacon 3.0 Plus or later.

Microsoft Edge Telemetry

Do you want to share your browsing history with Microsoft?

Microsoft has a long policy describing what data it collects and stores:

Microsoft Edge saves your browsing history, which is made up of info about the websites you visit, on your device. If the Diagnostics data setting is set to Full, this browsing history is sent to Microsoft, which helps us find and fix problems and improve our products and services for all users. If you choose to turn on Tailored experiences, we will use this browsing history to personalize your experiences with Windows and other products and services. Separately, if you choose to enable browsing history within the Cortana Notebook Permissions, your browsing history is also sent to Microsoft so Cortana can help personalize your experience.

eBook reading telemetry is also covered by Edge:

By default, and depending on the device configuration, Microsoft Edge gathers basic diagnostic data about the books in the Books Library and sends it to Microsoft. Enabling this policy gathers and sends both basic and additional diagnostic data, such as usage data.

Even by default, basic diagnostic data would be transmitted.

We recommend to use Spybot Anti-Beacon Plus to disable this telemetry.

Microsoft Map Auto-Update

Windows 10 includes a Maps app, which sports an offline mode. To avoid the offline maps to be updated automatically without your consent, we recommend to disable auto updates. This will ensure no updates will take place on metered connections (where Windows does not recognize you're on such a connection) or while doing things that require a highly responsive Internet, like gaming.

Microsoft Office 15 (2013) (via Group Policy)

Microsoft Office 2013 (also called Office 15) includes telemetry options that collect a range of personal information, including:

  • The file names of Office files that are in the Most Recently Used list.
  • The names of add-ins and solutions that interact with Office.
  • System information such as user name and computer name.
  • [...]

You can use this immunizer to let Office know it should not collect or transmit telemetry data.

Microsoft Office 15 (2013) (via Scheduled Task)

Microsoft Office 2013 (also called Office 15) includes telemetry options that collect a range of personal information, including:

  • The file names of Office files that are in the Most Recently Used list.
  • The names of add-ins and solutions that interact with Office.
  • System information such as user name and computer name.
  • [...]

You can use this immunizer to disable the scheduled tasks that are involved in this telemetry.

Microsoft Office 16 (2016) (via Group Policy)

Microsoft Office 2016 (also called Office 16) includes telemetry options that collect a range of personal information, including:

  • The file names of Office files that are in the Most Recently Used list.
  • The names of add-ins and solutions that interact with Office.
  • System information such as user name and computer name.
  • [...]

You can use this immunizer to let Office know it should not collect or transmit telemetry data.

Microsoft Office 16 (2016) (via Scheduled Task)

Microsoft Office 2016 (also called Office 16) includes telemetry options that collect a range of personal information, including:

  • The file names of Office files that are in the Most Recently Used list.
  • The names of add-ins and solutions that interact with Office.
  • System information such as user name and computer name.
  • [...]

You can use this immunizer to disable the scheduled tasks that are involved in this telemetry.

Microsoft Office 17 (2019)

Microsoft Office 2019 (also called Office 17) includes telemetry options that collect a range of personal information, including:

  • The file names of Office files that are in the Most Recently Used list.
  • The names of add-ins and solutions that interact with Office.
  • System information such as user name and computer name.
  • [...]

You can use this immunizer to let Office know it should not collect or transmit telemetry data.

Microsoft Office Telemetry

Microsoft Office includes telemetry options that collect a range of personal information, including:

  • The file names of Office files that are in the Most Recently Used list.
  • The names of add-ins and solutions that interact with Office.
  • System information such as user name and computer name.
  • [...]

You can use this immunizer to let Office know it should not collect or transmit telemetry data.

Microsoft OneDrive (via Group Policy)

OneDrive is Microsofts online storage that can be used like a local drive in Windows.

If you do not use OneDrive, we recommend to use this immunizer to let Windows know you do not intend to use OneDrive.

Microsoft OneDrive (via System Service)

OneDrive is Microsofts online storage that can be used like a local drive in Windows.

If you do not use OneDrive, we recommend to disable the OneDrive services.

Mozilla Firefox Telemetry (via Configuration)

New in Anti-Beacon 3.1, this will help to stop the telemetry in Mozilla Firefox by creating or updating the global Firefox configuration to not use telemetry.

Mozilla publishes telemetry information it collects on its Telemetry portal, where the interested user can read about the information Mozilla collects during everyday use of the Firefox browser.

Mozilla Firefox Telemetry (via Group Policy)

Mozilla Firefox can send a wide range of information to Mozilla in case of crashes and on a daily basis. To quote the official public wiki of the Mozilla project:

It's helpful for Mozilla's engineers and decision-makers to be able to measure how Firefox behaves in the real world. The Telemetry feature provides this capability by sending performance and usage info to Mozilla. As you use Firefox, Telemetry measures and collects non-personal information, such as performance, hardware, usage and customizations. It then sends this information to Mozilla on a daily basis and we use it to improve Firefox.

You can view the data Firefox would transmit by visiting about:telemetry within Firefox.

This Anti-Beacon immunizer ensures that this transmission is disabled. It is available in Anti-Beacon 3.0 Plus.

RedShell

RedShell is a tracking module that comes shipped with games like Civilization VI, The Elder Scrolls Online, the Total War series and more.

An immunizer for RedShell hosts was added to Spybot Anti-Beacon 2.2 on June 22nd, 2018.

Vivaldi Do-Not-Track

The Vivaldi browser allows to set the Do Not Track flag that can be transmitted to all visited websites.

We recommend this setting for all users. It will be available in Spybot Anti-Beacon Plus 3.2.

Windows Account Location
Windows Application Compatibility Program Inventory
Windows Application Impact Telemetry (via Group Policy)

AIT stands for Application Impact Telemetry. AIT is a part of Microsofts Customer Experience Improvement Program, which is described by Microsoft with these words.

When you choose to participate in the CEIP, your computer or device automatically sends information to Microsoft about how you use certain products. Information from your computer or device is combined with other CEIP data to help Microsoft solve problems and to improve the products and features customers use most often.

This Anti-Beacon immunizer will disable the AIT part of CEIP.

Windows Application Impact Telemetry (via Scheduled Task)

AIT stands for Application Impact Telemetry. AIT is a part of Microsofts Customer Experience Improvement Program, which is described by Microsoft with these words.

When you choose to participate in the CEIP, your computer or device automatically sends information to Microsoft about how you use certain products. Information from your computer or device is combined with other CEIP data to help Microsoft solve problems and to improve the products and features customers use most often.

This Anti-Beacon immunizer will disable the AIT part of CEIP.

Windows Application Suggestions and Auto-Installation

Windows Consumer Features will automatically install some apps suggested by Microsoft.

We highly recommend to use this immunizer to block this Windows 10 feature.

Windows Background Access Applications

Using the Background Access Applications immunizer, you can stop Microsoft Windows 10 from starting some apps in the background.

We recommend this option to give you more control over what runs on your computer at any given time.

Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) (via Group Policy)

CEIP stands for Customer Experience Improvement Program. If enabled, it collects and sends user experience data to Microsoft to improve future versions of Windows.

It is described by Microsoft with these words.

When you choose to participate in the CEIP, your computer or device automatically sends information to Microsoft about how you use certain products. Information from your computer or device is combined with other CEIP data to help Microsoft solve problems and to improve the products and features customers use most often.

Anti-Beacon can disable CEIP using Group Policies.

Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) (via Scheduled Task)

CEIP stands for Customer Experience Improvement Program. It collects and sends user experience data to Microsoft to improve future versions of Windows.

It is described by Microsoft with these words.

When you choose to participate in the CEIP, your computer or device automatically sends information to Microsoft about how you use certain products. Information from your computer or device is combined with other CEIP data to help Microsoft solve problems and to improve the products and features customers use most often.

Anti-Beacon can disable the Scheduled Tasks that exist for CEIP.

Spybot Anti-Beacon 2.4 brings improvements to this immunizer.

Windows Device Location
Windows Error Reporting

Windows Error Reporting, or simply WER, transmits information about crashing applications to Microsoft.

We usually recommend to keep using this feature, but if you want to deactivate it, you can use this Spybot Anti-Beacon immunizer.

Windows Feedback (via Firewall)
Windows Feedback (via Group Policy)

Windows Feedback is a feedback and telemetry system build into Windows 10.

Unless you want to actively participate by providing Feedback to Microsoft, we recommend to use this immunizer to disable Windows Feedback.

Windows Handwriting Data Sharing

Microsoft can collect your handwriting information on tablet computers to improve their handwriting recognition.

It is described by Microsoft as:

Data about handwriting samples sent from the Handwriting Panel is used to help Microsoft improve handwriting recognition.

Windows Location
Windows Lock Screen Camera

As a security measure, we recommend to disable access to attached cameras on Windows' lock screen.

Windows Optional Telemetry

This immunizer blocks even more Windows servers than those blocked by Telemetry Hosts. It is recommended only to those wanting maximum privacy and a minimum of Windows background connections.

Windows Personalized Ads

The Windows Advertising ID is used by Microsoft to provide so called relevant ads. It allows apps to track your identity over app borders.

Microsoft describes the ID with these words:

Windows generates a unique advertising ID for each user on a device, which app developers and advertising networks can use to provide more relevant advertising in apps. When the advertising ID is enabled, apps can access and use it in much the same way that websites can access and use a unique identifier stored in a cookie. Thus, app developers (and the advertising networks they work with) can use your advertising ID to provide more relevant advertising and other personalized experiences across their apps.

Windows Remote Registry

The Remote Registry service allows your computer registry (a configuration storage) to be accessed and modified from remote computers.

This can be useful in corporate networks, but we recommend to disable it on private computers.

Windows Sensors

The immunizer allows you to disable the Sensors feature of Windows. This feature provides application with access to features like your location.

This immunizer can block useful features like auto-adjustment of screen brightness and should be used only when maximum privacy is your goal.

Windows Steps Recorder

The Steps Recorder can record usage steps, including pictures of your screen. Microsoft describes its purpose with these words:

Steps Recorder (called Problems Steps Recorder in Windows 7), is a program that helps you troubleshoot a problem on your device by recording the exact steps you took when the problem occurred. You can then send this record to a support professional to help them diagnose the problem.

We recommend to disable this feature using Anti-Beacon unless you are asked to use Steps Recorder by a trusted person.

Windows Tailored Experience
Windows Telemetry (via Firewall)

This immunizer sets the Diagnostics Tracking (also called Connected User Experiences and Telemetry) to be blocked in the Windows' Firewall.

Microsoft describes it as:

The Diagnostic and Telemetry service collects diagnostics information about functional issues on Windows systems that participate in the Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP). CEIP reports don't contain contact information, such as your name, address, or telephone number. This means CEIP won't ask you to participate in surveys or to read junk email, and you won't be contacted in any other way.

It is required if you want to use the achievements system in some Windows games. If you do not rely on this feature, we recommend to disable this option.

Windows Telemetry (via Group Policy)

This immunizer applies a Windows setting that lets Windows know it should not use telemetry.

Windows Telemetry (via Hosts)

This Anti-Beacon immunizer blocks access to a few dozen Internet servers that are contacted by Windows to submit telemetry data.

Windows Telemetry (via System Service)

This immunizer disables the Diagnostics Tracking in Windows, also called Connected User Experiences and Telemetry.

Microsoft describes it as:

The Diagnostic and Telemetry service collects diagnostics information about functional issues on Windows systems that participate in the Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP). CEIP reports don't contain contact information, such as your name, address, or telephone number. This means CEIP won't ask you to participate in surveys or to read junk email, and you won't be contacted in any other way.

It is required if you want to use the achievements system in some Windows games. If you do not rely on this feature, we recommend to disable this option.

Windows Update Bandwith Sharing

Microsoft might use your computer and bandwidth to share their updates with other Windows users. This they call Delivery Optimization.

Microsoft described Delivery Optimization with these words:

Windows updates, upgrades, and applications can contain packages with very large files. Downloading and distributing updates can consume quite a bit of network resources on the devices receiving them. You can use Delivery Optimization to reduce bandwidth consumption by sharing the work of downloading these packages among multiple devices in your deployment. Delivery Optimization can accomplish this because it is a self-organizing distributed cache that allows clients to download those packages from alternate sources (such as other peers on the network) in addition to the traditional Internet-based Windows Update servers.

Anti-Beacon sets this to the useful setting that shares updates within your local file, not allowing to share updates over your Internet connection, to avoid slowdowns and possible additional costs for your bandwidth.

Windows User Activities

Microsoft describes the activity history on their website as:

Activity history in Windows 10 helps keep track of the things you do on your PC. It’s the apps and services you use, the files you open, and the websites you browse—and when you do these things. Your activity history is collected and stored locally on your device, and if you’ve signed in to your PC with a Microsoft account and given your permission, Windows sends your activity history to Microsoft. Once your activity history is in the cloud, Microsoft uses that data to enable cross-device experiences, to provide you with personalized experiences and relevant suggestions, and to help improve Microsoft product and services.

We recommend that you use this immunizer to disable this feature.

Windows Web Search

The Windows start menu has a web search integrated. This means that all keywords you type into the start menu to search for apps or documents might be searched for on the Internet. Since Internet connections are rarely anonymous, this would allow Microsoft to create profiles of your local searches. We recommend to disable this option.

Windows Wi-Fi Sense Hotspot Sharing

WiFi sense is a Microsoft system that tracks your usage of wireless networks and initially was designed to automatically share your networks with friends or even friends of friends without sharing passwords.

In Windows 10 version 1803, Wi-Fi Sense was removed.

We recommend to apply the immunizer for Wi-Fi Sense to stop sharing your network details with Microsoft.

Windows Wireless Device Sharing and Syncing

By using this immunizer, you can stop apps sharing and syncing non-explicitly paired wireless devices over uPnP. This immunizer is recommended.