Discover whether your PC is in danger of being tracked via spyware or other ways. Limit details you reveal online, like your location and behavior patterns.
We all know the feeling. You're using your computer, going about your business, and suddenly something doesn't feel right. You can't put your finger on it, but you have this nagging suspicion that someone is spying on you. And this paranoia becomes a reality when an ad pops on your computer of the same thing you were talking about recently.
However, it is just not limited to personal computers. Various entities have the power to collect information about users’ online activities. They might be anonymized, meaning that they should not in any way identify you personally. Sadly, studies have shown that even anonymized data can never be truly anonymous.
So, you should be able to tell whether you are one of the users being tracked online. The chances are that most of your actions are recorded in some way.
Pay attention to your computer performance
One of the first things you'll notice if someone is spying on your PC is that your computer's performance will start to suffer.
If you've been using your computer for a while without any issues, and suddenly it starts running slowly or crashing, this could be a sign that someone has installed spyware on your system. However, it might apply to more malicious tracking, like with spyware.
Check your internet activity
Another telltale sign of spying is unusual internet activity. If you notice that your internet connection is suddenly slower than usual or that you're being redirected to strange websites, this could be a sign of spyware.
Open your web browser and go to the History tab to check your internet activity. It will show you a list of all the recently visited websites. If you see any suspicious sites listed, this could indicate that your system has been compromised.
You should also look at your internet connection's settings. If you see any unusual proxy servers or DNS entries, this could signify that your system is being monitored.
Investigate strange activity on your account
If you have a suspicion that someone is spying on your PC, the next thing to do is check for any strange activity on your account. It includes unusual login attempts, new applications installed without your knowledge, or changes to your account settings. These changes can include your password, security questions, or recovery email address.
Also, to check for strange activity on your account, open the ‘Control Panel' and go to the Security tab. Here, you'll see a list of all the recent activities on your account. If anything looks out of place, this could signify that someone is trying to gain access to your system.
Look at your webcam
It's possible that someone could be using your webcam to spy on you. Look at the LED light next to the camera to check if your webcam is active. If this is lit up, the webcam is currently in use. However, there might be other signs that someone gets to enable your camera even without triggering the LED light.
It's also worth noting that many webcams come with a physical cover that can be used to block the camera when not in use. If you don't have a cover for your webcam, it's good to tape over it when not in use.
Check the ports
If you've double-checked the installed programs and still feel that someone is watching you, the next step would be to check the computer's ports.
One way to do this is to go into the device manager (search for “Device Manager” in the start menu) and then expand the “Ports (COM & LPT)” section. If you see any devices listed here that you don't recognize, it's possible that they are being used to spy on you.
Investigate process activity
It can be done using the ‘Task Manager’ program. Press Ctrl+Alt+Del and then click on the “Processes” tab. Here, you'll be able to see a list of all the processes currently running on your system. If anything looks suspicious, it's possible that it could be being used to spy on you.
A suitable option for PC monitoring is to use Resource Monitor and Task Manager. One of the most significant disadvantages is that Windows has many utilities. Therefore, it becomes rather tricky to keep track. However, guides and tutorials can help you keep your PC healthy.
Take back control of your privacy
You can do a few things to take back control of your privacy. First, install an anti-spyware program. These programs will scan your system for malicious software and remove any spyware.
You should also change all your passwords and enable two-factor authentication if available. It will help protect your account from being accessed by anyone other than you. How? The perpetrators would need to complete the third step to enter an account. Since the temporary token arrives at your device, achieving this is rather difficult.
Also, using a Virtual Private Network can help protect your PC from intrusive behaviors in two ways. First, it can encrypt your internet traffic so that it's difficult for anyone to snoop on your activities. Second, PC VPN can hide your IP address so that it's harder for spyware to track your location.
It can be a saving grace for beating the intrusive, yet legitimate ways companies track you. For instance, data brokers can be very data-hungry when it comes to learning about users.
Always keep an eye on your activity and regularly check for any strange activity. If you suspect that someone is spying on your PC, the sooner you act, the better. Also, keep your system always updated. By taking these steps, you can help to protect your privacy and keep your computer safe from spyware.
However, spyware is only one of the concerns. Legitimate entities like social media can be rather intrusive. After all, they get a lot of information about you, including the details you willingly give away. Sadly, many tracking practices happen without users' knowledge. Thus, you need to employ more online strategies to be more anonymous and private.