For privacy and performance reasons, I'd like to prevent my computer from ever communicating with certain Internet hosts. I'd like to do this at the OS level, not through web browser plug-ins (not broad enough), or even through my home router (my laptop travels). I'd prefer to use built-in tools.
I'm running Windows 7 Professional 64-bit. I'm all too familiar with the Windows
hosts file - and its limitations. There seems to be some confusion over whether
hosts supports wildcards, but my own tests confirm that it does not.
I have experimented with Windows Firewall and the IP Security Policy MMC snap-in. So far as I can tell, both require numeric addresses. I don't want to block specific IP addresses, or ranges of addresses, in part because IP-address-to-hostname mappings can and do change.
Is there any tool in Windows 7 Professional with which I can block (or route to 0.0.0.0) communication with Internet hosts by hostname mask? If not, are there any good, free, third-party tools?