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We all know that feeling. You scroll your phone, and here it is. An ad that can be linked to a recent conversation with a friend. Click here to get simple steps to stop advertisers from following you.
Bad habits can reveal even more of your secrets. If you go the easy way and use your Facebook or Google account to sign in to other sites and programs, stop it. Click here to see how much of your data Big Tech and others are getting for free.
Maybe it’s not about advertisers or Big Tech tracking. Here’s a test to see if something very sinister is happening – a copy of everything you do on your PC or Mac is collected and sent to who knows who.
1. Check Task Manager or Activity Monitor
Malware comes in many forms that often behave differently. Some of them are impossible to miss – for example, ransomware – and others are kept invisible.
Spyware is subtle compared to other types of malware. It hides in your system, tracking every password you enter, every video call you make, and every email you send.
Although these pieces of software are tricky, they leave behind bread crumbs. Your first stop is Task Manager if you are using a Windows PC or activity monitor on a Mac. Both give you an overview of everything that happens on your car.
PC users: Follow these steps
- Open Task Manager by clicking Ctrl + Shift + Esc. On the Processes tab you will see programs and background processes running on your PC.
- See the list. If you see a name you don’t recognize, do a search to see what came out. Sometimes these programs and background processes are legitimate and not a concern, even if you don’t know the name at first glance.
- To close a program or process, right-click and click Complete the task.
Mac users: Follow these steps
- To open the activity monitor, press Command + space to open Spotlight Search. Then, type Activity Monitor and press Sign in. Check the list for something you don’t recognize.
- To close a program or process, double-click, and then click Finish.
LISTEN: Spyware can be framed by a hacker, a jealous ex, a relative or even your boss. In this podcast episode, I’m immersed in how “bossware” works and everything your workplace can know about you and your technological habits.
2. Know what to expect
One of the signs of malware infection? The processes start on their own. Don’t write this off if the app starts by itself. Take this as a warning sign.
Let’s say you only have a few apps that open when you start your computer. If another window appears briefly before stopping, it may be a spyware download. They’re designed to disappear so you don’t notice them, but they can briefly show themselves that way.
By tracking what should happen when you start your computer, you will have a better idea when something strange is happening.
How to change startup programs on PC:
- Press the button Start menu.
- Choose Settings (cog icon) and press Programs.
- In the left menu, tap Launch at the bottom.
The launcher displays the applications installed on your device. If Windows has measured the impact of this program on your computer, you will see a rating next to it. Options include no impact, low impact, medium impact and strong impact.
A high-impact application can slow down startup time. Go through the list and determine which programs you do not need immediately after launch. Toggle each slider next to the program to turn it on or off.
How to change startup programs on Mac:
- Click on Apple menuthen System settings.
- Click Users and groups.
- Choose your own User accountthen press Entrance elements top right.
Here you will see a list of programs that open automatically when you log in.
To prevent the program from starting automatically, click Remove the login item. Then select the name of the program you want to block and click on Delete button below the list.
You can use the checkbox to hide items that you would still like to run. Click on the plus symbol below the list and find it on your computer to add a new item.
What happens if you detect malware on your computer? We need to get to work. Click or click here to protect yourself.
3. Stay up to date
I know. Updates are annoying. They always appear when you’re busy and you don’t want to deal with bugs and other issues posed by the latest version of Windows or macOS. However, keeping your system up to date is one of the best ways to keep up with the constant flow of garbage that seeks to root your way on your computer.
To upgrade your Mac:
- Press the button Apple icon from the menu bar at the top of the screen.
- Strike System settings > Software update.
From here you can also enable automatic updates by checking the box at the bottom of the window. To get more options, click Advanced.
To upgrade your computer:
- Press the button Start menu and open Settings.
- Click Update and security > Windows Update.
You will see if updates are available for download. When an update is available, click Download and install. If you don’t see an update available, click Check for updates to force the process.
Worried that someone is pushing your computer? Here are hints that someone spied on.
In this episode of Kim Komando Today I have a lot of helpful tips. First, you will learn how to never lose a text message again. I will also tell you how to protect your nude photos from hackers. (It was based on real listener questions!) Also, where to place the router for better Wi-Fi, how to find spyware and a few other technical tips that will make your digital life easier.
Check out my “Kim Komando Today” podcast on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify or on your favorite podcast player.
Listen to the podcast here or where you get podcasts. Just find my last name “Team”.
What questions about the digital lifestyle do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and click or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen or watch The Kim Commando Show on your phone, tablet, TV or computer. Either click or click here to get Kim’s free podcasts.
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Learn about all the latest technology on The Kim Commando Show, the largest weekend radio talk show in the country. Kim takes calls and gives advice on the modern digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to hacking online privacy and data. To get her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.