For as long as internet access has been common, so has the level of concern over programs which "phone home". When you install software on your PC, does that program make silent connections over the internet, back to a server somewhere? If so, why? Is it purely for harmless purposes such as checking for updates? Or could it be sending your confidential data elsewhere?
If you suspect that such activity has been taking place on your PC, or you merely want some assurance that it is not, take a look at the Moo0 Connection Watcher. It's a free utility which tells you which programs are currently communicating over the internet from your PC, or listening for incoming connections. It also tells you the name or IP address at each end of the connection, and the number of bytes sent and received since you started the program.
The Moo0 Connection Watcher is free, and you can get it from http://www.moo0.com/software/ConnectionWatcher
The download is around 3 MB, and it should work on all recent versions of Windows including 8. It's malware-free according to Web of Trust and VirusTotal. It's also available as a portable version, and that's the one I used, although there's an installable version too if you prefer. Personally I recommend using portable software when available, as there's nothing to install and thus removing the product if you no longer use it is simply a case of deleting the files from your computer.
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