Tuesday, October 22, 2013

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How To Detect PC Monitoring Softwares

There are two sides to everything and unfortunately, PC monitoring software is no different. Employers can make use of it to monitor employees at workplace and consequently raise productivity, while parents can utilize it to keep a close watch on their children’s online activities. Unfortunately, that is not the only use that tracking software can be put to. Stalkers and cyber criminals such as hackers and identity thieves have been abusing the software for their malicious purposes. Through the covert installation of the software on the target PC, they gain an unsolicited access to user’s computer and Internet activity such as keystrokes, chat sessions, emails, Web browsing habits, bank account and credit card details.
Due to the misuse of computer monitoring software, it has become imperative that a computer and avid Internet user knows how to detect an intrusion so that it can be stopped. While detecting monitoring software is not an easy thing to do since stealth is one of its strongest features, there are some signs that can indicate its presence on the system.

Going after the keylogger

Keylogging refers to the process of logging keys, i.e. tracking keys struck on the keyboard secretly and making them available at a specific server. Since everything from chat messages and emails to bank account details and credit card numbers are tracked, keylogger is clearly the deadliest component of monitoring software. Fortunately, its biggest weakness lies in its ability to hide well. Not only can certain keyloggers get detected easily through the “Process” tab in the “Task Manager”, but they can also be easily removed. For the keyloggers that are adept at remaining hidden, simply downloading and running an antispyware or antivirus program can dig them out and remove them.

Monitoring Internet Traffic

Since the main purpose of installing monitoring software on the target PC is to retrieve information from it, cyber criminals or stalkers receive data from the target PC regularly. The victim can use this knowledge to their advantage by installing an Internet Traffic monitor and observing it closely to look for any irregularities. The file communicating with the host PC will typically have an “.exe” extension.

Taking pop-up adverts as a warning signal

While not every PC spy software triggers pop-up adverts on PCs that it is installed on, majority of the instances in which users encounter random pop-up adverts have monitoring software as the culprit. Not only can the cyber criminals be behind this, companies involved in perfectly legal business can be responsible for this as well. In order to get an idea of a user’s interests and sell their products to them, many online companies go beyond acceptable ethical boundaries and use monitoring software. If a pop-up adverts appears on the PC, then there is a very strong chance that it has monitoring software installed on it.

The genuine PC monitoring software

This type of software is typically installed by employers and parents to monitor the computer activity of employees and children respectively. Since the purpose of the software is not to steal information and misuse it, but to rather encourage a limited and responsible use of Internet, it does not hide. In most cases, an icon is visible in the taskbar on the bottom-right corner of the screen, reminding the employees and children that their activity is being recorded. The software is strictly off-limits for the parties being monitored.
Merely detecting monitoring software is not enough. One needs to be able to identify it and take the necessary action to remove it from the system. While there are a variety of anti-spyware programs available on the Internet, none of them provides flawless protection.


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