How to Find Out if Someone Has Installed Tracking Software on Your Computer
Tracking software is designed to run on your computer without detection, but some programs are not as well hidden as others. Using a number of different resources, you can check your computer for any suspicious activity and gain some clue as to whether or not your computer activities are being monitored.Some tracking software can compromise your own personal security. Keyloggers, for example, can track your keystrokes and transmit that information to a third party. This can be a serious problem if you use your computer to log into personal sites, such as your online bank account. Therefore, if you suspect your computer is installed with tracking software, it's a good idea you do some research to confirm.
Check your installed programs. Click "Start," then "Control Panel." Double-click "Programs and Features." Allow the list to completely populate, then scroll through to find any unknown software. Look up this software in a search engine to confirm whether or not it is tracking software.
Check your processes. Press "Ctrl," "Shift" and "Esc" simultaneously to open Task Manager. Click the "Processes" tab.
Sort by "User name." If there are any names other than "Network Services," "Local Services," "System" or your login name, it is possible that someone is tracking your computer remotely. Look up the entire process name (located under the "Image Name" category) in a search engine for confirmation.
Check your firewall. Return to the Control Panel and double-click "Windows Firewall." Click "Allow a program through Windows Firewall." Click "Continue" if User Account Control appears.
Click the "Exceptions" tab and scroll through the list of programs. If you find any suspicious or unfamiliar software, check the name in a search engine and remove the check mark next to the name. Click "OK."
Download, run and install anti-malware software such as "Adaware" or "Spybot." Run the software's update utility to install the most recent malware (malicious software) definitions.
Use the software's scan utility to search your entire system. Follow the program's on-screen instructions to get rid of any malicious software found.
Tips & Warnings
- Do not disable, uninstall or block any tracking software you find on your work, library or school computer, because you could get in trouble with the IT department.
- Make sure the anti-malware software you use is well-known and well-rated, since some of these programs may actually install more tracking software on your computer.