Computer Spyware is a Real and Viable Threat TV, movies and media provide a glimpse into situations that the everyday person may not consider reality. However, we in the investigative world see that not everything is so fantastic that it is improbable.

Take a scene from a sitcom where one character witnesses what is going on in his ex-wife’s home because his son left the webcam turned on on his computer. He hadn’t set it up so he could spy on her, but that doesn’t mean that someone else couldn’t or wouldn’t do that.

Or consider that recent AP article reporting that some group (thought to be a middle-eastern government) actually infiltrated the computer systems in the nuclear centrifuge in Iran in 2010 through the use of webcams and microphones. They called it a virus. It was really spyware.

Spyware can be downloaded onto your computer by simply opening an e-mail, a picture or an attachment with the code embedded in it. That code can instruct the computer to turn on the webcam and/or the microphones so the bad guy can listen and watch everything going on within close proximity to the computer.

These days, almost all computers have microphones and webcams, either built in or purchased separately. Spyware on the computer can send commands to turn them on and they become spy surveillance mechanisms. So every computer is a potential target.

A person might be suspicious and call us, saying, “I think there’s someone spying on me with my computer. How do I find spyware on my computer?”

When we tell them that we know there isn’t anything out there today that prevents spyware from being installed into a computer, they immediately ask, “How do I remove spyware from my computer?”

The only way to remove spyware from a computer begins with a forensic computer analysis. The spyware has to be identified and isolated before it can be removed.

Just remember, art imitates life – and that includes computer spyware!

-T. Wilcox, CEO, International Investigators