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detecting programs on laptop that can steal your info

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how to detect programs on your computer placed by someone who wants to have access to your info..i have a dell laptop, windows xp...the offending computer has a thinkpad.. would encription program help?
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    Retired Staff

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generally speaking, the easiest way to determine if a program is spying on you is to find out what programs are running at start up and researching those programs.

There are a variety of programs that help you see what is running at startup, including hijackthis and autruns by sysinternals


More elaborate programs like rootkits and some advanced keyloggers are more difficult to find, since they operate behind the scenes and do not even show themselves as processes. One typically finds these by the symptoms they display, rather than evidence of the program themselves (know files are invisible, folders behave oddly).

I suppose the best question is why do you ask?
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