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Did Someone Bug My Computer?

Posted by Chris Allard on Sat, Jul 06, 2013

keylogger monster I went on vacation with my boyfriend last year and we both took our laptops. At one point, my boyfriend wanted to use my laptop because he said his didn't have online connection. I said sorry but I have personal stuff on my laptop and I wouldn't let him use it. I went out for a while and when I came back, my laptop was stacked right on top of his laptop on the table. When I asked why my laptop was sitting on top of his laptop, he said he didn't know, it could have been the hotel housekeeping that put it there.

I am suspecting that he may have tried to bug my laptop. Is there any chance he was able to do that? I am very suspicious of the way the laptops looked when I came back to our hotel room. We live in different parts of the country. Could he have gained access to my laptop through what they call key logger software? This happened last year, but I've noticed several incidents when he surprisingly seemed to know what I was doing on my laptop or what I wrote in an email. If he got access to my laptop last July, is there a time duration when this access would expire? How can I know if he is bugging my laptop? I have had Norton on my laptop since before our vacation, and recently installed SuperAntiSpyware Software from AOL. Could these programs have caught a bugging attempt on my laptop and eliminated it? If not, what should I do to be able to know? Thank you for your time.

- Worried in Wilbraham


Hello Worried,

It is very unlikely that either of the two softwares you mentioned (Norton and SuperAntiSpyware) would miss an installed key logging program. If someone was capable enough to write their own piece of code or script to log your keystrokes, that may not be discovered because it is not a program that is recognizable by anti-virus software. There is no “expiration” for how long he would have access to the computer because the script that would run would most likely not stop running until it was discovered (IF it is discovered).

There is also a piece of hardware (also called a keylogger) which does the same thing as software but is nearly impossible to find using just anti-virus software. These small devices are either inserted unto the USB port, PS/2 keyboard port, or on a laptop I've seen some very small ones that “clip” on to the keyboard ribbon cable and capture the data from every keystroke you make. Obviously you would notice a USB stick plugged into your laptop, laptops don't usually have PS/2 ports, and for the ribbon cable keylogger you would have to drill or cut room for the small device inside the laptop. The only way to discover (and also install) these on a laptop is to fully dismantle the laptop to get access to the keyboard's interface cable and the device would be clipped to the cable's exposed raw metal. I have personally never seen these devices installed on a laptop in person because they are somewhat large relative to other laptop components and would usually prevent someone from reassembling the laptop (laptops are built with virtually no extra space inside) without making major alterations to the frame/chassis. They also take an immense amount of time and skill to install, which hinders a steathy and discrete installation. Therefore, both are somewhat unlikely to have occurred without you knowing or without the anti-virus software finding it.

Of course, the only way to be sure is to have a technician inspect both possibilities, software/hardware. Some good practices to ensure your peace of mind also: Change all passwords for every account, profile, etc that you’ve ever accessed using that computer. Also, you can train yourself to purposely type in the incorrect passwords for everything the first 1 or 2 times you enter them. Since keyloggers can only log keystrokes, intentionally entering the wrong password once or twice will greatly confuse whoever is reading the logged data making your passwords “self-encrypted”. You can also use a virtual keyboard program like Free Virtual Keyboard for entering your account usernames and passwords. This is software where you control your keyboard with your mouse, bypassing the keyboard entirely which is absolutely the only sure way to avoid your security being compromised.


Hopefully this helps set your mind at ease.


Chris Allard

Resident PC Ninja & Techie

Tags: Dirty little tech secrets, spyware, key logger, key logging, Viruses, Strong passwords, PC Tips & Tricks, Protection, Ask-a-techie, password protection, password security, Computer Protection, Safe Practices, Windows Tips, computer keyboards, Security