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Hosts file

(also hosts)

Hosts file definition

A hosts file is a computer file that maps hostnames to IP addresses, which organizations sometimes need to edit to block some websites or malicious activities overall. All operating systems utilize hosts files, which are simple text files that connect domain names with IP addresses before they go to the domain name servers. When a user enters a URL in the web browser, the browser checks the hosts file to see whether it finds the requested domain name, and then it searches for a DNS server. Furthermore, the hosts file provides robust protection for user data because it can prevent malicious activities. However, hackers can still use the hosts file as a target.

Hosts file hacking

  • Malware attacks. Hackers usually implement phishing scams or spyware to interfere with the host file's data.
  • Redirecting search requests. If hackers access the hosts file, they may use it to redirect users to malicious websites and trick them into providing sensitive data, such as login credentials, bank accounts, or card details. This results in identity and data theft.

Advantages of the hosts file

  • It protects users’ privacy. The hosts file can block trackers, third-party websites, advertisers, marketing campaigns, ads, and banners that hackers may attack to steal sensitive data and cause harm to the whole operating system.
  • Organizations can use it as a firewall. When organizations use it as a firewall, the hosts file can detect any unusual activity or ransomware sites that want to gain unauthorized access to user data.