After the hustle bustle of the holiday season, most of us are ready to get back into our regular routines. However, I just read an article by Matt Gephardt at in Utah that there is actually a bump up in computer malware infections after the holidays – up to a 30% increase! That means there are those who are working extra hard right now to get personal information from your computer.

The article says that much of this increase is due to people:

  • getting new computers or other electronic gadgets as gifts for the holidays
  • surfing the Internet before installing some sort of anti-virus protection
  • surfing for online bargains in the holiday shopping season.

There are ways to ascertain if your computer has been infected. Two of the most common symptoms include:

  1. A large number of pop-ups and random pop-ups
  2. The computer runs very slowly

Most people think of viruses and the like when they hear of a computer infection, but spyware is also a growing issue. Spyware can allow someone else to monitor usage, location and what is said both on the computer as well as verbal conversations in the room.

A growing number of clients of bring their computers in with questions about how someone knows things they shouldn’t. They want to understand how a conversation was obviously overheard when there was nothing ON the computer. It’s a different situation than having a virus.

Computer forensics investigators can complete a computer forensic analysis including spyware detectors to reveal that an outside party can indeed turn on the webcam which allows them to see and hear what is going on in the room where the computer is located. That is in addition to the ability to farm personal information including possibly reading email and other files stored on the machine.

The computer forensic examination can identify offending software and files and then the certified computer examiner can remove them.

Computer forensics electronic discovery is after the fact, meaning that the computer investigation and digital forensics are conducted after someone suspects a problem. Anti-spyware software can help prevent inadvertent installation, but can’t always prevent spyware from being installed. It is up to the users to be hyper-vigilant about what they open and use on their computers.

-Brenda McGinley, CEO, All in Investigations, All in Investigations