Community Newsletter: Q&A forum: 9/23/05 Svchost.exe: friend or foe?

by: Lee Koo (ADMIN) September 22, 2005 1:29 PM PDT

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9/23/05 Svchost.exe: friend or foe?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) ModeratorCNET staff - 9/22/05 1:29 PM

Members, thank for your participation this week. Chuck if you're reading this post, please join us in this week's discussion to let our members know if your question on svchost.exe was answered. If not, please do post your questions so that our members can help you out.

If any of you have additional advice or recommendations you would like to share with us on this topic, please chime on in. Your participation is appreciated by all. Thanks everyone and have a great weekend!
-Lee Koo
CNET Community


Question:

I wish to know what the program svchost.exe wants to do if I give it permission to access the Internet. My firewall tells me that svchost.exe wants to access the Internet. This is not related to my specific request for anything, and my inclination is to say no. But I am not certain that is the right thing to do. I have searched the Internet for svchost and svchost.exe and gotten lots of hits. The Microsoft knowledge base explains svchost but doesn't convince me I want to let it access to the Internet. But it also suggests I might
be wrong (note: W32Time, Dnscache). I could tell the firewall to never let svchost.exe have Internet access, or I could tell it to always let svchost.exe have Internet access. But I don't understand enough to know which would be best. Please help me out with this sticky security issue.


Submitted by Chuck M.


Answer:

The Microsoft page describing this process is at http://support.Microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;314056 and I've wondered this myself in the past. The svchost.exe runs as a request by DLL's (Direct Link Libraries). This can be a legitimate request from your computer's system processes or any other DLL. More often than not, it is always a Microsoft process request, but it can be used by other programs. Most of these requests are not needed for computer operation but may be needed for such things as updates to programs and operating systems.

This process (program) can be used by any other program or DLL on your computer, so it may from time to time be used for not-so-good intentions; but most of the time, traffic to the Internet can be allowed safely from the svchost.exe. The good news is that you have a good firewall, one that does not allow service utilities like this one default access by design. Many people do (I'm a beta tester of these things). I have firewall filters in place for this process to allow outgoing traffic only and only to some sites. When you go to the Microsoft update site, svchost.exe must be allowed, or you cannot update your system. My firewall blocks all traffic in and out for svchost to any site except Microsoft.com for updates.

I, too, was at first concerned about this service, but after putting a few firewall filters in place, it no longer worries me, and I'd say you will feel comfortable after a few well-placed firewall rules (filters). You can do this yourself by choosing to block all requests to or from svchost.exe on your firewall that do not interfere with your Internet requests. It maybe needed for some other programs, though, such as antivirus updates, but normally not. I say, when in doubt, block it and see what happens.

I hope this helps you understand it a little more. This generic process in Windows could be used for bad things, but keeping your firewall in place and well managed, you should be safe and all your privacy intact. At least from this service. Good luck.

Submitted by Mark P.

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