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As a neophite in security, I'm very curious to understand if companies can audit computers that their software is being installed on during the installation process, and report back to their servers?

Also, would a VPN fail to conceal the computer's IP address when installing such a curious program (if these even exist)?

Last, I understand firewalls can stop all outgoing traffic, but would that not short circuit the installation, if, presumably, the server is engaging in bidirectional comms?

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  • Title and body of your question don't match. The title is about computers getting exposed (which means accessible from outside), while question is asking about reporting back if the software is installed. The latter does not imply the first. And yes, often software phones home on installation, for example to verify the entered license and to look out for software updates. Firewalls most times don't limit such outgoing connections. Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 5:32
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    Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 7:17
  • @SteffenUllrich I can see a broader definition for "exposed". If a snapshot of the machine is taken and sent off-site, then that's an exposure.
    – schroeder
    Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 8:56

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Can software gather information and send that information out? Of course.

Could the information that the software gathered include IP addresses? Yes.

Do firewalls block traffic? Yes. Could blocked traffic cause an installation to fail? Yes.

This is all very common, actually. Modern software might check to see if the computer meets the minimum requirements, it might send statistics "home", and it might check for licenses. It also will call home for recent updates. The installer might just be a "system checker" who then contacts the home server to actually download the full program to install. And if programmed to, the installation might end with an error message saying that it requires the ability to connect to its home server if there is no connection.

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