How to Detect Unauthorized Access to a PC

by Bonnie Conrad

If you suspect someone is using your computer without your permission, it is important to find out if your suspicions are true. Highly personal and confidential documents are often kept on our computers, and unauthorized access to the computer puts all those documents at risk. There are a number of telltale signs you can look for to detect unauthorized access to a PC.

Log on to your PC and right-click the "Start" button. Choose "Explore" from the menu.

Expand the "+" sign next to the C drive, then expand the Document and Settings folder. Look for any unfamiliar names in the "Documents and Settings" folder. Each time a new user logs on to the computer, the operating system creates a folder under "Documents and Settings" with that user name. So if JASmith logs on to your computer, you will see a JASmith folder underneath Documents and Settings. Not only can this provide proof that someone has been logging on to your computer, but it can also identify that person.

Open up your Internet browser and view the history. For example, on Internet Explorer, you can view the history by clicking the "History" button on the toolbar, or by holding the "Ctrl" key down and pressing the "H" key. Look for any unfamiliar websites that could indicate that someone else has been using your computer.

Leave your computer idle for a day, if you can. Then log back into the computer and click the "Start" button. Choose "Search" from the list and choose the "All Files and Folders" option. Click the "When was it modified" button and search for files created on the days you were not using your computer.

Watch for changes in your system settings, screen icons, screen resolution and configuration. These are all indications that someone has been using your computer without your permission.

About the Author

Based in Pennsylvania, Bonnie Conrad has been working as a professional freelance writer since 2003. Her work can be seen on Credit Factor, Constant Content and a number of other websites. Conrad also works full-time as a computer technician and loves to write about a number of technician topics. She studied computer technology and business administration at Harrisburg Area Community College.

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