Who’s Been Snooping on Your Trading Computer? Find Out!

If you own a computer customized for trading, you own a device designed with security and reliability in mind. You already know about the importance of anti-malware apps to keep your information safeguarded. But you might not have thought about protecting your device from offline attacks. Even if you have passwords on all your devices, you should regularly check your trading computer or laptop for intruders. Cyber-criminals are not the only threat. If you trade from an office outside your home, or if you trade from a laptop while traveling, there might be people snooping around for valuable information. Even at home, you might want to check for snooping guests. Here are three ways you can check if someone has logged into the laptops and computers you use for your trading business:

Investigate Microsoft Activity Log

All modern computers have some form of activities log. You can use this log to determine if someone has accessed your trading computer. On a Windows 10 computer, if you have allowed it, Windows keeps track of app launches and other activity. You may have turned this setting off to minimize how much Microsoft knows about you. However, if your device is at all exposed to potential snoopers, you might want to turn on this tracking. To turn it on, use: Settings > Privacy > Activity history > Let Windows collect my activities from this PC. Here’s how to see the activity log.
  • From the Activity history window, click on Manage my Microsoft Account activity data. Or simply go to this site: https://accounts.microsoft.com.
  • At the top of the page, go to the Privacy tab. (You’ll need to log in and verify your identity.)
  • From the Privacy window, open Activity history.
  • You’ll be able to filter by apps, voice, search, browse, media, and location.
Now that you can see the logs on your personal trading computer, inspect them carefully to see if there has been any suspicious activity on your machine. For example, if you leave your office at 5 pm, are there any entries after that time? The logs can be confusing. And they will show activity from any of your devices. Including phones as well as computers. However, if you see activities that raise suspicion, it’s probably time to tighten your security. (See below for suggestions.)

Review Browser History

Nowadays, you have to use browsers for most of the work you do on your trading computer. You may access your email and your trading sites from a browser. So, naturally, intruders will try to access those points, too. A sophisticated snooper might delete their browsing history. But when someone is looking at your trading computer or laptop with nefarious intentions, they are most likely in a hurry. So they might forget to delete the browsing history. For maximum security, review the browsing history at the beginning of every trading day, or every time you leave your trading computer unattended. A quick check will show you if there was recent activity by someone else. And if you’re browsing history is completely empty, and you didn’t wipe it, you know someone else did. If you do wipe your history every day, it might pay to click on some unique page afterwards. So if you don’t see that page in history the next morning, you’ll know someone else was there.

Check Recently Modified Files

Another good way to spot unusual activity on your trading computer is by searching for modified files. In File Explorer, go to the right corner and enter datecreated: or datemodified: in the search box. It will pop up a window to let you select the time frame. After you define your time frame, it will show you files that were created or modified in that time period. This tool can be extremely helpful to notice any new files that you never created or modified. Suppose you created a presentation on your trading computer a few weeks ago. If you notice that file was modified yesterday, that’s a good sign an intruder was in your trading computer. Even if they didn’t intentionally change your presentation, your PC may have auto-saved the item while the snooper had it open. If you use a newer version of Office with the auto-save feature turned on, Office will auto-save immediately once someone opens a file.

Tighten Your Security

Here are some simple steps that can prevent snoopers from getting into your computer.
  • Always use a password on your trading computer to prevent unwanted access. This is important even if your biggest threat is from grandchildren looking to play games.
  • Use a screen saver that goes into effect within a short period of time to avoid people taking a look at your computer when you aren’t there.
  • Make it a habit to use Windows Key + L to lock your trading computer whenever you are leaving your office desk, even if just for a quick break.
Don’t take unnecessary risks with your trading business. Take these easy steps to keep your trading computer and data safe from busy fingers and prying eyes.
There are more trading computer tips like this in our buyers guide. Check out our “How To Buy a Trading Computer” e-book.
We hope today’s Quick Tip helped you. If you found this helpful, you’ll want to check out the other computer How-To’s I’ve created on this page. You can always call us if you have questions: 800-387-5250. Photo by rawpixel on pixabay.com.