The scariest of things possible for a PC owner is to come to know that your PC is being monitored remotely. Although it would be a rare event, it’s a possibility. The natural question is how to tell if someone has accessed your computer remotely.
For starters, you can turn the internet off and see if it makes any difference to your PC performance. Then, you can check the recently accessed apps to look for any suspicious activity. Also, you can inspect the Task Manager for actions you haven’t initiated. In parallel to all of it, you can run an anti-virus scan. If you see suspicious activity along these lines, the odds are that your PC has been accessed remotely.
In this article, I’ll expound upon the different tests you can use to determine if your computer has been accessed remotely by someone else. Also, I’ll add some general remedies you can adopt to curb it.
Step #1: Remove Your Internet Connection
The source of remote activity on your computer has to be through the internet. Hence, the primary check for a remote connection to your computer would be turning off your internet connection.
If you were experiencing some suspicious activity on your PC, and it stopped once you removed the internet connection, chances are the problem – whatever it is – is remote.
On top of it, if your PC tries to connect to the internet on its own, without you commanding it, it even strengthens the possibility of someone accessing your computer after breaking into it remotely.
One thing needs to be understood. Malactivity in the presence of an internet connection doesn’t directly suggest that someone is remotely accessing your PC. It could very well be some other issue.
Step #2: Check the Recently Accessed Apps and Files
Once you’re done gauging the behavior of your PC with and without an internet connection, the next thing is to see if there are any files or apps – about which you know nothing – running on your PC. And it’s pretty simple to do so.
You can check the “Recent Files” option on Windows to find any recently accessed files that you haven’t opened in a while or know anything of. Here’s how you can do that.
- Press Windows + E.
- In the tab that pops up, click the lower-screen tab that reads “Recent Files”.
To check the recently accessed files on Windows, you can simply navigate to the Start menu. Here, on the top row, you’ll find the apps that have been opened recently.
On a Mac, you can check the recent tapping of the Apple menu by clicking the Apple menu located at the top-left corner of the screen. Here, click on the “Recent Items” option. You can review the recent files, applications, and server usage history in the next tab.
If you find files or apps you’ve no idea of or haven’t opened for a long time, there’s a great chance someone has been messing up with your system.
Step #3: Inspect the Task Manager
What if someone has been accessing your computer right under your nose? To check this possibility, you can open the Task Manager in Windows or the Activity Monitor on Mac to see if there’s some application running that you didn’t initiate.
To open the Task Manager on Windows, you can simply type it on your Windows search bar. To open the Activity Monitor on your Mac, go to “Applications” > “Utilities” > “Activity Monitor”. You’re home!
Before you relate every app you haven’t opened to foreign activity, let me say that many apps – especially system apps – run in the background. So you don’t need to be particularly worried about them.
But if you see non-system apps running on their own without you initiating the app, check if you’ve installed those apps or not. Also, run them through a reputed anti-virus scanner.
Step #4: Scan Your Computer
The most obvious and probable way someone can access your computer is by hacking it. Naturally, for that, they’ll install malware on your system. You can do many things to find out the viruses – if any – on your system.
For Windows, you can simply go to Settings. Here, navigate to the “Updates & Security” tab. Next, go to the “Windows Security” tab. Here, you can run a complete scan for malware.
For Mac, the anti-virus scan runs on its own. So, if the system sees a threat, a notification will pop up.
What Action Can You Take?
After running all these tests, if you think your computer has been remotely accessed, the seminal question you’d have in mind is what to do next.
For starters, you can quarantine all suspicious apps. If things are intense enough, you might need to sign out of all your e-mails and change your passwords. Next, you can use an anti-malware system such as Bitdefender to root out any malware on your device.
If all that sounds too technical to your ears, the best thing to do is get an expert at it and hope for the best.
In a nutshell, you can check your PC’s behavior with the internet turned off, look at recently accessed apps and files for any suspicious activity, and run an anti-virus scan to tell if someone has been remotely accessing your PC. If all this sounds too heady, just take your computer to an expert, and they’ll do the deed for you.