Ask Leo: How to remove spyware from a PC I loaned to a former friend?


By Leo Notenboom

I have a classmate who borrowed my computer at school one day. He is really talented when it comes to computers and I am not. He did something to my computer that allows him to access my webcam from his computer. I have no idea how he did that, but when I use the computer, I can suddenly see the light indicating that my webcam is running and he can watch me. It’s creepy and I don’t know how to undo what he did. My question to you is how can I remove his access to my webcam?

You’re right. It is creepy.

And depending on where you live, it might actually be an illegal form of harassment or even assault.

If this person is really your friend, you would ask him to remove it, he would, and you’d believe him when he told you that there was nothing left of his handiwork on your machine.

But because you’ve come to me instead, I can only assume at least one or more of those conditions is not true.

Get a better friend

Unfortunately, all of the techniques to get rid of what amounts to spyware are fairly technical in nature. If you don’t feel knowledgeable enough to handle those kinds of things, then the solution boils down to a completely a different approach.

Find someone you trust – completely – and who is technical enough to be able to handle situations like this.

Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to know exactly who to trust. Trust the wrong person and you could end up with even more malicious software on your computer than you started with.

And I can tell you from all of the questions that I get on Ask Leo!, it’s extremely common for friends who you might trust today to turn out to be exceptionally untrustworthy tomorrow.

But I do suggest this first because for many people, it’s often the only practical approach.

Just don’t trust too quickly or easily, OK?

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This post is excerpted with Leo’s permission from his blog.

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