Gadget Magnet - Data Doctors - Data Doctors: Sniff out ‘keyloggers’ before it’s tax time - Tucson Local Media: Gadget Magnet

Gadget Magnet - Data Doctors - Data Doctors: Sniff out ‘keyloggers’ before it’s tax time

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Monday, January 27, 2014 3:12 pm

Q: Is there an easy way to see if I have a hidden keylogger on my Windows 7 computer before I start doing my taxes? — Don

A: Tax season is what we refer to as ‘Christmas for Hackers’ because they know that lots of us will be typing very sensitive information on our computers to prepare our returns.

There are a number of threats that can compromise your computer, but few are as disconcerting as a keylogger.

If a malicious keylogger can sneak its way into your computer, it sits silently in the background recording every keystroke you make and can send the daily ‘transcript’ to a remote hacker.

Grabbing your valuable data, such as bank credentials, social security numbers and e-mail passwords takes seconds with an automated script.

Keyloggers tend to be fairly sophisticated programs that can masquerade as typical operating system processes, so detecting them can be a little tricky.

A sign that you should have your computer looked at by a knowledgeable person starts with how long it takes your computer to start up. If it’s substantially longer than when it was new, you likely have extra processes running that could include malware.

A quick self-check can be run by opening the Windows Task Manager (right-click on the Taskbar at the bottom to start it) when you first turn your computer on and reviewing the number of processes running.

A well maintained computer will have between 40-50 processes running. If the number is 60, 70 or 80-plus, for a variety of reasons, you should have your computer looked at soon.

Not only will it uncover any potentially hazardous malware, your computer will run significantly better without the extra load.

While you have the Task Manager open, click on the Processes tab and click on the ‘Image Name’ column header to sort the processes alphabetically. Scroll down towards the bottom and look for the ‘winlogon.exe’ process.

There should only be one, so if you see more than one instance of winlogon.exe you should stop using your computer immediately and have it examined.

Unfortunately, many of today’s keyloggers are written to hide from this quick check, so just because you don’t see more than one instance of winlogon.exe, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a keylogger installed.

Another indication that you should be concerned is if your CPU usage meter (click on the Performance tab) is showing a lot of activity even though you just started your computer and you haven’t opened any programs yet.

Your CPU should be idling in the 2-3 percent range with no programs (other than Task Manager) open.

While you are reviewing the performance charts, take a look at the Physical memory usage to see if you need more memory (RAM). If the blue line in the Usage History is half way up or higher, adding more RAM should provide you with a noticeable improvement in speed.

Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to computer security, so if you have any indications that your computer isn’t quite right, make sure you have it looked at before you start your tax preparation.=

• Ken Colburn is president of Data Doctors Computer Services and host of the Data Doctors Radio Program, noon Saturdays on KTAR 92.3 FM or at www.datadoctors.com/radio. Readers may send questions to evtrib@datadoctors.com.

© 2014 Tucson Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

More about

More about

More about

Welcome to the discussion.

Oro Valley Audiology

Oro Valley AudiologyAddress: 2542 E Vistoso Commerce Loop Rd, Oro Valley, AZ 85755Phone:(520) ...

Wednesday 02/19/2014

Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale chosen for Google Fiber program Gadget Magnet: Windows XP users: Read this before doing your taxes!

Monday 01/27/2014

Gadget Magnet - Data Doctors - Data Doctors: Sniff out ‘keyloggers’ before it’s tax time

Wednesday 01/08/2014

Apple tops $10 billion in App Store for 2013

Tuesday 12/10/2013

Gadget Magnet: Data Doctor: Why do I look like a spammer?

Wednesday 09/25/2013

Prime Time Review: Grand Theft Auto V lives up to the hype

Wednesday 09/18/2013

Prime Time Review: New iPhone reveals Apple’s ups and downs?

Thursday 09/12/2013

Here there be monsters: Darkout preview

Thursday 08/29/2013

So, this is happening: Nintendo announces 2DS with Oct. 12 release date

Wednesday 08/28/2013

Gadget Magnet - Making new laptops faster

Tuesday 08/13/2013

Ford releases its new sport truck Ford F-150 Tremor

Friday 07/12/2013

Gadget Magnet - Data doctors on getting the most out of your Smart phone while abroad

Thursday 06/20/2013

Video feature brought to Instagram today

Saturday 06/15/2013

Gadget Magnet - Data Doctors on dealing with dead pixels

Friday 05/31/2013

Gadget Magnet - Data Doctors on whether you should turn your computer off every night Encourage Kids to Have Gadget-Free Fun this Summer

Monday 05/20/2013

Gadget Magnet - Data Doctors talk about how to maximize your mobile battery life

Thursday 05/16/2013

Gadget Magnet - Data Doctors: Can I legally copy my DVDs to use on other devices?

Thursday 05/02/2013

Gadget Magnet - Data Doctors: Fake Microsoft phone call scam the rise again!

Friday 04/26/2013

Data Doctors: Parental controls tips in iOS & iTunes

Friday 04/19/2013

Gadget Magnet - Data Doctors: How to Print from your iPhone or iPad (or Android, Kindle, etc.)

Friday 02/01/2013

Gadget Magnet - Ouya: Coming Soon To A Living Room Near You

Wednesday 11/21/2012

Gadget Magnet: Hot gadgets for the holiday season

Thursday 10/18/2012

Gadget Magnet - Are you a Mac or PC?

Thursday 09/20/2012

The iPhone 5: What’s the big deal anyway?

Friday 09/07/2012

Gadget Magnet - I need memory! But, what type?

Monday 08/13/2012

Gadget Magnet: Is the Kindle Fire worth the time?

Wednesday 07/18/2012

Gadget Magnet - Buying a new computer? Consider the processor first

Friday 06/29/2012

Gadget Magnet - Thoughts on Windows 8

Wednesday 04/11/2012

Gadget Magnet - Oh no! They changed Facebook! ...Deal with it!

Monday 02/20/2012

Gadget Magnet - Shooting Accenture - Don't blame the photographer

Tuesday 01/24/2012

Gadget Magnet - Conversation improves without cell phones

Wednesday 01/04/2012

Gadget Magnet -You have a new iPhone, Touch or iPad, now what?

Wednesday 12/21/2011

Gadget Magnet - The Kindle, a pleasant surprise for this Apple man

Wednesday 12/07/2011

Gadget Magnet: Which to buy: a small camera, a medium camera or a large camera

Catalina Bighorn Sheep Releases

Arizona Game and Fish released 30 Bighorn Sheep in a 2-Day period into the Catalina Mountains ...

More Featured Videos
Spacer4px

Follow us on Facebook

Online poll

Loading…