How to Find Out If Someone Has Installed a Spy Program on My Computer
If you surf the web without the proper precautionary measures your system will be susceptible to infiltration by spy programs known as spyware. There are different kinds of spy programs, from software that monitors what websites you visit to key loggers that steal your personal information. Most spyware programs attempt to hide themselves, so to locate them you will need to prevent them from running and then use a spyware detection tool.
Things You'll Need
- Spyware detection software
Follow the link in the Resources to the listing of free spyware detection software. Download at least two different spyware detection programs such as "AdAware" or "Spybot."
Double-click the downloaded file and follow the installation instructions. Open the spyware detection program and click its "Update" option. Follow the update instructions to download the most recent spyware information. Open the second spyware detection program and run its update procedure.
Exit the program and restart your system. Wait for the computer's logo to appears on the screen and then press "F2" repeatedly until a new set of options appear.
Navigate down to the "Safe Mode" option and press Enter. Wait for the operating system to finish loading. Unplug your computer from the Internet by shutting off your router or disconnecting your network cable.
Open the first spyware detection program you downloaded. Click the option to run a full scan of your hard drive, which will usually be labeled "Check for Problems" or something similar.
Read through the list of detected threats to see if anyone has installed a spy program or key logger on your computer. Click the check box next to any spy programs that were detected and then choose "Remove Selected Problems."
Close the program and then open the secondary spyware detection software. Run a scan and remove any spyware that was found.
Reconnect your computer to its Internet source. Restart your computer.
Tips & Warnings
- You can reduce the chances of spyware infiltrating your computer by installing a firewall program on your computer (see Resources).
- Update your spyware detection program and run a full system scan weekly to keep your computer safe from spy programs.
- Not all computer manufacturers use the "F2" key to access Safe Mode. Try the other "F" keys or the "Esc" key if "F2" doesn't bring up the menu.
- If the spyware detection program finds any keyloggers you should assume that all of your passwords and financial information stored on your computer have been compromised. Immediately change every password you use and contact your bank about having new cards issued if you have typed your credit card information into online forms.