Using a HOSTS file to block access to malicious or unwanted web sites is an old trick and it’s excellent protection against malware. I’ve been using the mvps.org hosts file for about five years, and I have never been infected with any malware, despite, for testing purposes, intentionally visiting sites known to host it. The thing just works. It’s a great way to add an additional layer of security to your machine. You’ll also notice that many of those annoying ads no longer display in your browser.
Today, I found a cool utility that will let you download, install, and update your HOSTS file directly from the mvps.org site: Hosts File Updater, a freeware program by FaltronSoft. This single 16K executable checks the mvps.org site for a new version of the HOSTS file. If it finds one, it asks you if you want to update. Give your permission and the program backs up your existing HOSTS file and downloads and installs the new one. It also automatically sets the file to read-only, a nice feature.