Feeds

Don't let Windows Indexing Service know too much

Keeping index files under control

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Privacy workshop The Windows Indexing Service catalogues the contents of your hard disk, and even the contents of files, to make local searching faster.

This service creates and later consults a number of small databases containing data about your disk's contents, including the actual contents of files, which can undermine the practice of good data hygiene. Indexing creates what amounts to a scattered secondary volume of your data, and your wipe utility might fail to erase all these related traces when it erases a file.

However, the Indexing Service is also a significant convenience. It's not essential for searching, but it speeds up searches and enables you to search for strings within files. So it's not something to do away with unless you are primarily concerned about privacy and data hygiene.

There are two levels of response here, and you can choose your poison. First, indexing can be shut off altogether, and you can then wipe the index files and that will be the end of it. Second, you can shut it off temporarily, wipe the index files, and then re-enable the service, only this time selecting the particular directories to be indexed. This way, you can use the service, but prevent the indexing of directories containing sensitive information.

For those interested in the nuclear option, consider that, for an added bonus, disabling the Indexing Service will free up some processor resources and RAM. If you are unlikely to search very often, it's foolish to devote system resources to speeding up a service that you don't really depend on, or even want.

Of course, if you normally spend a great deal of time searching for files, or for strings of text within your files, you'll be grateful for the Indexing Service, although it does make data hygiene pretty much impossible if you index directories and files indiscriminately.

Regardless of which option you choose, begin by disabling the service and wiping the old index files. First, log in as an Administrator, and begin by shutting it off:

1. Go to the Start menu and choose Run.

2. Type in services.msc and click OK. The Services dialogue will launch.

3. Right-click on the Indexing Service to bring up the Properties dialogue, and click Stop if the service is running. Then select Disabled. Click Apply and close the dialogue.

4. Go to My Computer. Next, select (Local Disk C:) under "Hard Disk Drives".

5. Right-click on the (Local Disk C:) icon and choose Properties from the right-click menu. The Local Disk Properties dialogue will pop up. Near the bottom you will see a tick box beside the option: "Allow Indexing Service to index this disk for fast file searching" (the option will not be available on all systems, so don't worry if you don't see it).

6. Clear the tick box, click Apply, and in the next dialogue, select the option "Apply changes to C:\, subfolders and files." Click OK, and reboot.

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.