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Is someone accessing my laptop remotely?

Feb 17, 2013 1:19AM PST

Hello everyone.

I just joined today, primarily to ask the following questions:

Here's the problem, and the symptoms. I unfortunately have a family member who has some serious emotional problems. This person, by definition, is a sociopath. He has also had drug related issues as well, and whether thats still an issue I dont know, as I dont deal with him anymore. But he's also got some friends who are simply really bad people.

So I've had problems in the past with theft, break-ins, accessing my computer without permission, etc. I am now concerned that its been accessed remotely. He does not live close to me, but he has friends who do.

I have a Dell Inspiron 1501 laptop with Win Vista. I have been noticing that every once in a while, at different times of day when I'm at home, the laptop will switch itself on without me touching it. I'll suddenly hear the characteristic two-tone noise that it makes, which is something like doot-doot, then the fan will turn on and off as I recall, and other little noises. Again, the computer is sitting on the other side of the room, closed when this happens.

Now, I try to ALWAYS turn the computer OFF when I'm done using it. I DONT use sleep or hibernate. I go to start, click the off button, and I wait til it shuts off and all the little lights are off before I close the cover. Now sometimes, the next time I turn it on I get a message saying it didnt shut off properly, and there's that black and white screen with the safe mode option showing. Usually I just click enter to restart it normally. But this alleged improper shutdown happens 1-2 times a week.

Anyway, its been turning itself ON at least once a week that I'm aware of, because I'm home to hear it. It wasnt til yesterday that I began to worry about it. So I did some searches, and one thing that was mentioned about remote intrusions, was to check to see if the remote access block is checked under the firewall and under computer. Well, the box for remote access was checked ON for both firewall AND under computer. So I unchecked the boxes.

I am no computer expert, and the only protection I had/have is Windows security essentials, which I assumed was adequate against spyware and viruses. But as I looked into this potential problem, I was amazed at just how in-secure these computers are from the factory! I read that someone can access your computer remotely, add or take info from your computer, and yet there is absolutely no built in warning, and no message that lets you know that someone has accessed it, and theres no way to know what they did when they were in your computer! Well, aside from going through all your zillions of files to see if anything has been changed, stolen or corrupted.

Shouldnt it be basic common sense that there should be SOME indicator that lets you know when someone has accessed your computer? Shouldnt there be a page or a window that comes up that simply states that "computer was remotely accessed at 1:42pm today, 2/17/13"? Shouldnt there be a window that lists any new uploads into folders or downloads from your folders, or the addition of folders, etc when someone does access your computer remotely? I assumed there was, and that I would have known if someone was accessing it, but apparently I was completely wrong about that, to my own peril....

Is there not a serious problem with identity theft and hacking, spying, etc? So why make computers that allow people to hack them with absolutely no warning to the owner? I know, its my responsibility to get spyware, but I have what I was told was GREAT protection, but apparently it can be manipulated, which leads us back to the question, why isnt there an AUTOMATIC warning in window that tells you EVERY time your computer was potentially accessed built into the computer's basic software?

Anyway, enough of my rant(sorry about that), I guess my questions are:

1. Are the remote setting boxes checked 'on' from the factory? because I never clicked them on!


2. If I didnt click the remote settings on, how did they get clicked on?

3. Is it possible to access someones laptop remotely if its turned fully off?

4. Why is my laptop turning itself on with no input from anyone? Is it possibly related to its other problem of not always shutting down "correctly"? I've read that others have had issues with Vista not shutting down correctly.

5. Is it possible for someone to turn on my laptop remotely?

6. Is there really any way to find out if any files have been taken or added remotely?

7. Is there a trail that can be followed if someone has accessed my computer? Did Dell or Microsoft at least think to program in some way of recording intrusions or save the addresses of the remote computer used to access my computer? Is there a record of the remote access events?

Lastly, what do I need to do in addition to windows essentials and unchecking the remote access boxes to protect my computer, and what can I do to catch the person attempting it? is there ANY software that will tell me when someone accesses my computer remotely or attempts it, while recording their ip address?


Thanks a lot, and sorry for the lengthy first thread, but I felt that all the info would be necessary to accurately describe the situation...

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Comments
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Possible, but unlikely
Feb 17, 2013 1:52AM PST

It's possible, but unlikely. If you are shutting the computer off, and it still seems to be turning back on, that would mean that someone would have to be using Wake-on-LAN functions, and doing that over the Internet would be exceedingly difficult to where very few people would even bother.

But a simple way to test this is to simply make sure to disconnect any network cables, and if your model has a hardware switch to disable wifi, do that as well. If it's still tuning on, then odds are it's something else. You could also unplug it and remove the battery when you're not using it, and then there's absolutely no way of anyone being able to access it short of physically entering your residence and reconnecting the power.

As for the rest, you'd need to get some kind of expert involved, and it'd be expensive. Despite what you see on TV and in movies, it's not like you can just press a few keys and pull up a lot of things, or hack into someone else's computer in a few seconds. It takes a fair amount of skill combined with a lot of time and effort. Most of the so-called hackers out there are just a bunch of social malcontents who probably know less about computers than you do. There's a couple of programs that automate the process to a few mouse clicks, and that's what these people use. The program just scans for any known exploits and if it finds one, drops in a malicious payload. If you're keeping up on your Windows updates, have some kind of firewall in place, and don't just click on any random link that comes into your inbox, odds are you have something other than a hacker issue.

You could have something as simple as a stuck power button that is causing the laptop to power on at times, and then do a forced shut down as well. Even if the person is a clinical sociopath, that just means they would have no moral qualms about breaking into your computer if they thought there was something to gain from it. The term often gets distorted in popular usage, but a sociopath is just someone who has little to no ability to empathize or understand the feelings of others; it doesn't mean they're some kind of serial killer. There's actually been an interesting postulation posed, about how some of the most successful people in business are sociopaths. Their lack of empathy makes them utterly ruthless, and they will not feel even the slightest bit bad about firing tens of thousands of people if it makes them a few extra bucks. But a sociopath isn't just going to target people for no reason, they have to feel like there's something for them to gain personally. So if you ask yourself if there's anything you have that this person might want, and you can't come up with anything, odds are you're focusing on the wrong thing with regards to your problem. Otherwise, you'll need to take your computer to the police, let them analyze it. And/or hire a lawyer, who then in turn hires an expert to gather evidence for a restraining order, etc. If you stop and think about it for just a second: Assume you find irrefutable proof this person is behind everything. What then? What good does this information do you? If they were smart enough to do it once, they can certainly do it again, and if they are willing to break into your residence (even by proxy) to make it happen, there's even less you can do.

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hopefully you are right, but...
Feb 17, 2013 2:48AM PST

The person I'm talking about fits the sociopath description in every way. Also, you are 100% correct in that sociopaths will target people who have something they want, but if you look more deeply into it, you'll also find that they are always looking for something to deal with boredom, and they almost always have one or multiple marital affairs, or they cheat on their significant other. This person has been doing that for 20 years now! They also are very sneaky and seek risky behavior for excitement, like sneaking a lover into your family home for an affair while the spouse is upstairs asleep. Check! They will hurt anyone and eventually everyone around them because they get a thrill out of it, and it makes them feel powerful to be able to negatively influence people's lives in such a profound way. Check! They claim to care about people, but always use destructive criticism, and always try to put you down and negatively judge you whenever possible, but they will NEVER accept ANY criticism of themselves without usually becoming angry! Check! They simply enjoy hurting people, and it doesnt matter who it is, a family member or a person who is supposed to be a friend. Check! They have absolutely no concern for the welfare or feelings of others, although they will pretend to be a good, caring person in order to get your trust, then things start to go downhill. Check! Lets just say that the parents of his wife have helped him immensely over the past 15 years, and let them live in their home for a long time, and in response to that, he uses them, cheats on their daughter right in their own home, while they are upstairs asleep, etc!

Anyway, I dont trust this person at all, and I fully expect further problems in the future. According to psychiatrists, approx 4% of society are sociopaths. Psychopaths are different, in that they arent really functioning members of society in that they will go out and murder people, where sociopaths are more functional and more subtle in their approach to what they do. They too may kill people, but they dont do it in a way that leaves much evidence, because they do care about their own welfare, just not anyone else's... One thing to remember though, if you look at how they act, they are truly cowards. They do everything behind your back.

But this person had previously accessed my computer before, and I had to change all my bank acct numbers, add passwords, etc. He has the resources to hack a computer, if in fact its possible to do so.

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Laptop wakes up while asleep, ex-wife & parents stay asleep
Jan 22, 2016 5:48PM PST

Not sure why you are sleeping in your parents house while your ex is living there. Not sure how you know your ex sleep with someone else while you and your parents were asleep in the house. Typically when I'm asleep I don't know who is "sleeping with who".

I do know when my laptop is asleep (lid closed and all that jazz) Windows will turn it on at 3 am and communicate with the internet.

I remember Kevin O'Leary (CBC Business News) said when he goes to sensational business meetings he takes the battery out of his cell phone because simply turning it off doesn't prevent spies from recording conversations.

That said I think it's time for you to move on and embrace the next phase of your five phase cycle.

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Remote access blocker
Apr 15, 2017 11:53PM PDT

install kreigersoft kreigersoft.com)

Post was last edited on April 16, 2017 6:40 AM PDT

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Sociopaths are pigs
Sep 26, 2017 10:31AM PDT

I think I know this person or one just like it. He's very smart and harasses me all the time because I wised up to who he really was and caught him at his game. My computers are constantly being hacked into but he's smart that I can't catch him. He hires people, I'm always looking over my shoulder. Forensics found key loggers and actual images of his computer screen with my computer's screen up and visible. He's sick and also spending tons of money to keep an eye on me. He used Spy on Android on my phone, jailbreak on my iPads and more. Till your sociopath passes on you will be tormented by him. Change passwords, get a Chrome Book and power wash it all the time, reset and erase your phone on a regular basis. I feel your pain and fear.

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They ARE!!! Especially white-coat submissive pretenders!!!!
Nov 17, 2017 4:44AM PST

Speaking of boars: sociopaths seem to be collected by their own kind, the wolf in sheep's clothing monster, with small-man syndrome - or other such downcast, deflating/ed issues - overcompensating with subtle abuse of women, if they are not abusing the vicious sociopath who hides his deformity with utter madness, (in this case, and yes- there is a point to this all - in this case an entire state and all the Letters of Government from the intel-com above the law, most powerful, down to state, city and county, colleagues of one in your very position, earned and deserved in this case, while investigations continue and charges guaranteed, given the multiple types of fraud, lives ended by this man, sadly the females he er, chose were not the sociopaths he picks for partners, and in seeking health, they lost their lives....because the man who is in your shoes, Boarish Brute, is the most descpicable, co-felon, most darkly demonized in his own pathology... and as you say you figured out this guys game - the story that is soon to be all over the news, federal imprisonmemt, deportation...already the entire state is aware of the wolf in sheep's clothing who needs to be partnered with sociopaths to be the victim, and at the same time as he subtly, like only a sociopath and the worst could, claims lives !in the healthcare profession! (Women, as needed; or, mostly. There are many men he destroyed - rumors abound about the group banding together but the feds and ICE will be done first I think). Compensating for his inadequacies, lives were ended by the sociopath-victim-small man & killer dr; he was playing at being oh so nice). Sociopaths other than this creature are victims. This beast, he was (is) wicked and rotten to the core, and the same things you report happened to him, and justice sees to it that the worst he went through is nothing like what hes got coming, him and the sham
marriage federal felon immigrant and co-conspiritor in fraud of all the worst kinds...and none of what hw has coming is just enough. Hell alone is.)

The point; for someone to have it that much in for you (if you are to be believed). Well. Something sparked it. And I have to ask if you have so much evidence, and probably some ____ lawyer to hide behind. Why have you not brought an end to it? NOOOOObody offered to help? If lawyers involved, nice checks they get to get evidence that does nothing.

You have a MILLION options open to you. Really common sense stuff. Your post implies you have resources- why whine? Why not act? Am I missing something? (Hopefully its not you being that monster!!!

You have evidence. (Expensive to get, too). You have a million dollars of tech. Killdisk, DBAN, sell cleaned - forensically - devices, use your money and what you make from your poor pile of toys, get new tech, move, new phones and numbers- and surely you know the rest. Sorry if this was brash, but a murderer in a white coat claimes this same story- only never tells the part of his causing the other man to react. (Nor what he did to someone he owes a ton of money to, owes it ALL to, his worst victim who was the one to stick by him, the one real friend he had in this life, who is now dying...for seeing a dr.)

Take a deep breath, obey who you obey, and use some common sense. If your bosses cannot help you for your submission and paychecks, look elsewhere. And just buy new tech toys, new mansion or whatver. It's pretty simple.

Really.

Best of luck.
-Legal expert in technology:
privacy, security (personal),
special focus on cyber security risk mitigation and prevention - for "health care providers" more than anything, haha

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follow up/clarification Question
Feb 5, 2018 6:47PM PST

So then is it possible for someone to either remotely access your computer or copy your computers information and use that information to access/set up accounts on other web sites with your computer info? If so, is it easily traceable?

I did read the above entry about it being costly etc., but want to know if it could be traced, or if would simply look like your computer was the one being used to perform such tasks.

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Sociopath??
Apr 8, 2018 3:40PM PDT

Yep cause all sociopaths need, must have, due cause. Because without cause....that would just be...CRAZY!!!

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This country ignores hackers of private citizen!
Nov 27, 2017 9:06AM PST

Good luck to you. If you find a solution let me know. Your letter sounded so like me, i thought someone wrote on my behalf but who would it be...im totally alone in life accept for my 85 yo mom i care for.After marrying the devil himself i got so isolated. I literally donot have one person i can call if i needed to.Not one. My ex who is the suspected sociopath you speak ofwho has been hacking and remotely accessing every device in my home as well as my CARS since 3-18-17, plus i found evidence of survalence and tracking on my pc and in my home all dating back to 2-10-14. It has led to divorce action. But still after him leaving 9-16-17.....still he knows everything i say, do and eveywhere i go. I have changed 2 pcs 3 phones, a laptop, 2 routers, still he has access. Cant get rid of him.He bugged the house and cars and set up this program on the pc when here that is amazingly self-sustaining. No one believed me including mt grown kids. Windows techs couldnt even find or get rid of it. Finally after 5 months of showing 2 diff. ppl that old programs cant just appear on a newly acquired factory refurbished device with the exact same dates and names as the ones in my infected remotely accessed devices.My kids still think im crazy and DAD had nothing to do with it and i dont know what im talking about. But you dont get a new pc, go to set it up and be dennied access to setting because you dont have authority unless its already hacked!
You dont have to know alot about computers to know something is very wrong if you install windows and start the set up and right off get denied authority for setting...... am i right?! So i start digging in files.... sure enough........they go back to way before i even got the pc!
P>S Since the separation after paying bills i have $75 a month to live on.....thats for food, gas...everything i need in a month and im going crazy with damn electonic fixes just to try and get him out of my life! There isnt enough hurt in this world for all the thing i know that hes done.. let alone what i dont know!He cant suffer enough for all the pain hes caused me and my whole family....and continues to with glee.

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Several things you can do
Feb 17, 2013 1:56AM PST

First to see what's recently been accessed, you should have "Recent items" enabled on your Start menu. If that's not there, you can right-click the Start button and click Properties, then click Customize. Secondly to see when your computer was powered off and on you can look through the system event log. To do that click Start -> Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Event Viewer. Once in Event Viewer click on the system log and scroll through the entries which will show when the computer was started and when it was stopped. The next thing would be to be sure you're behind a hardware and software firewall. A router provides the hardware one and Windows provides the software one.

If none of the above is sufficient, you can disable your network connection. If via wire, you could unplug it. If WiFi, you could disable it. I would also check the task manager to see if there're tasks scheduled to run at times when your computer might be unattended. You could encrypt your data, and you could get an external hard drive and keep the sensitive data on an external hard drive, which you could unplug when you're done with it. You could go into your BIOS setup and create a power on password.

Good luck.

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Thanks
Feb 17, 2013 3:03AM PST

I did go in and install a password into windows so that when I power up the computer, a password must be entered to get in. I am pretty much self taught when it comes to computers, as I went to high school in the mid 80's at a time when there were zero computers in the classroom. I clicked the start button, found the "recent items" button and clicked it. There are only about 12 items listed there.

I'm hoping I'm worrying about nothing here, but from past experience its better to be safe than sorry....

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There is a "Recent items" folder
Feb 17, 2013 3:58AM PST

In Windows 7 there's a Recent Items folder under C:\Users\yourid\Appdata\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows that goes back a good way. Mine has 146 items going back to August of 2012. The Recent Items listed under the Start menu are the 15 most recent ones. I didn't see what version of Windows you're running so I'm just giving you the info from my laptop which runs Windows 7. YMMV.

Good luck.

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I found out how.
Mar 10, 2016 1:26PM PST

I am having a similar experience. Hackers and Internet Trolls are grabbing my passwords and getting into my Laptop and my PC too.
I found out how.
Check under security and under recent activity, in Google it will show you the device names and date of last access to your Google account into your laptop. I found a Mac on list that I do not own when I did it.
Do the same for Microsoft if you have Microsoft Office or 365 and the mail, check your security settings, for recent activity then you can see the IP address and when. Then you can google their IP address.
Also check the Event log.
I was shocked to discover that a hacker can get into your Laptop or PC by hacking you Google and/or Microsoft accounts. And then into your Twitter, Instagram , Facebook too!

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How to check tyour Google for someone else getting into you
Mar 10, 2016 2:36PM PST

check your Google for someone else getting into your laptop through your Google acct. at https://security.google.com/settings/security/activity. This will give you the device name and last time it accessed your Google account and Laptop, but as of 2015 it no longer gives you their IP address.

And your Microsoft at https://account.live.com/Activity?mkt=en-US which is the same as "See when and where you've used your account", this will give you an IP address that you may be able to track down (Google it).

Good luck to you.

The hackers in my case are unemployed IT people with a agenda of attacking people with a normal lifestyle instead of their alternative life style, they are also probably trying to make money off it some how. My hackers were posting about me.

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Easy to check
Aug 21, 2016 9:26PM PDT
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change your usenames & passwords daily for a few weeks to
Mar 10, 2016 2:40PM PST

change your usernames & passwords daily for a few weeks to shake them off. It could also make them attack you harder.

Also, do you have a PC? change your keyboard - There was a Key stoke logger in my keyboard!

And programmable keyboard may be hackable, so a cheap non-programmable keyboard me be a good idea for your PC (not useful for Laptop)

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All possible if a hacker is smart enough to program it
Mar 30, 2016 10:50AM PDT

1. Are the remote setting boxes checked 'on' from the factory? because I never clicked them on! Contact the manufacturer or check their site.


2. If I didnt click the remote settings on, how did they get clicked on? Whoever set your PC or laptop up for you (Bestbuy, etc.)

3. Is it possible to access someones laptop remotely if its turned fully off? yes

4. Why is my laptop turning itself on with no input from anyone? Is it possibly related to its other problem of not always shutting down "correctly"? I've read that others have had issues with Vista not shutting down correctly.

5. Is it possible for someone to turn on my laptop remotely? All possible if hacker is smart enough to program it

6. Is there really any way to find out if any files have been taken or added remotely? Yes, 1)check you IP provider & get your IP router address then type in the address bar and see the devices on your wifi connection at home, etc (your IP provider should help you with that)). The check your Microsoft Account logging into your Microsoft account and going into the “Account settings” click on “security & privacy” In this tab under account security click “See recent activity” there you will see the IP addresses of any computer that got into MS account.

also see if there are other accounts set up on your computer. See if you are set up as the "administrator"? IF not then the person with the "administrator (or master)" account could be doing those things.

7. Is there a trail that can be followed if someone has accessed my computer? Did Dell or Microsoft at least think to program in some way of recording intrusions or save the addresses of the remote computer used to access my computer? Is there a record of the remote access events? In this tab under account security click “See recent activity” there you will see the IP addresses of any computer that got into MS account.

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Someone is trying to steal my personal identification
Dec 19, 2016 6:33PM PST

This is my fourth laptop and it seems as though every time, I get a laptop their is those crazy *** computer hackers who are trying to steal my personal information. My question is do you call the police? Because what they are doing is considered criminal. I am a college student so I have no idea what they want from me. It is frustrating that their are indecent people out there,

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Grey Car next doorHacking my wifi using my personal name
Apr 7, 2017 2:40PM PDT

This has been very helpful information with so much similarities. I saw a grey car next door as I was leaving to walk. They have used my name and kept knocking me off with a pop up to connect to wifi. Criminals are crazy

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Power On All By Itself
Feb 1, 2018 1:19PM PST

You mentioned you have a Dell.

I know one of the settings in the BIOS for some Dell laptops is: "What Action To Take When A/C Power Is Applied." (Plugged back into a power source.)

The switch/setting is 'power-on' - obviously and 'power off.'

Is it possible the times you've noted the computer starting by itself could be caused by power-losses? (Then when the power returns the computer turns itself on.)

Just thinking out loud.... Hope it helps someone.

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