How to Tell If a Computer Has Been Hijacked

By Darla Ferrara

If your computer has been behaving strangely lately, you may wonder if someone is watching your computer activity. Computer hijackers come in all shapes and sizes. Some just want to know what websites you visit in order to sell you stuff. Dangerous invaders log every keystroke to gain access to personal information like bank account numbers or passwords. With the rise of computer crime and identity theft, it is wise to know what to look for if you suspect computer hijacking.

Things You'll Need

  • Registry cleaning software
  • Port listening software

Step 1

Pay attention to how your computer is running. You know how your computer behaves under normal circumstances. If suddenly it’s sluggish and slow to respond, this is a possible symptom of computer hijacking.

Step 2

Check for settings that change without you making any adjustments. For example, if suddenly your browser opens to a different home page, this is a sign someone has made changes without your knowledge.

Step 3

Check to see if your Internet connection is slow. Again, you know how your computer usually runs. If you try to connect to the Internet a few times and it takes a long time to make the connection, that is also a possible sign of a problem.

Step 4

Move your pointer to the right hand corner of your desktop, right-click on the time and select “Task Manager” from the menu that appears. Click on the “Processes” tab at the top of the dialog box. This is a list of all the processes running on your computer. Look for names you do not recognize. If you are playing music in Windows Media Player and see wmplayer.exe, you know that is supposed to be there. If you see something like zudate.exe, that looks unusual. Highlight anything suspicious and click the end process button. If you computer continues to run with no visible change, that program probably shouldn’t be there.

Step 5

Download a registry cleaner to detect problem applications. A good example of this type of program is CCleaner. It will look at your registry for unusual entries, scan your programs files and look at running processes. Open the program and run the scan functions. The program will prompt you with information of problems that are suspicious. Let the program fix and remove files that it deems erroneous.

Step 6

Download port listening software. As a last resort, you can try software that checks your ports and reports associated applications. This is a good way to tell if someone has access to your computer. An example of one such program is Fport. Once you locate a port with suspicious activity, you can take steps to remove the hijacker.