Can my neighbor spy on me with a computer he gave to me?
Question by candice /

I recently was given a PC by a neighbor, however he programmed it with Windows XP, put in a video card, sound drivers and etc. I haven’t hooked it up because, since I’m leary of him anyways & believe he has spied on me prior, I am worried that he  could spy on me once I hook up the computer. I Have my own software CDs for Windows XP Pro but I don’t know how to use them. Can anyone offer some advice?

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Answers (4)
  • James Bruce

    I’m not sure I would be accepting gifts from someone I didn’t trust and tthought might be spying on me….

  • Jay

    Yes, you can check the computer with all the anti virus, firewalls and anti-malwares.
    but there is no cure of doubt.
    you can just copy some useful data on a storage media from the pc, and install your own windows xp and remove all your doubts.
    But it will remove the data, which your neighbour may need as a back up, so back upthe data.


    Hello, Do you have another computer available or is the one given to you the only one?  If you have another computer or access to one, you can download software to check for malware/spyware, etc.    If there is any kind of spying software, malware, etc, chances are, it should be found if you scan your computer with software like superantispyware, malwarebytes, and an antivirus.  If you do not want to hook up your computer online, use another computer to download the following software to a usb drive.  Once you have the software on the drive, you can install it to your computer without accessing internet.  Once you check your computer with full scans and it shows as clean, you can connect it to the internet.  If you are afraid of anybody accessing your computer if you are not online, it is not possible unless he has physical access to your computer in your house. 

    Superantispyware:  The link is for the portable version.  You do not have to install it in your computer if you do not want.  You can run it from the flash drive.  Just double click on the file, and it will open up for you.  Make sure to run full scan.  If there is/are anything found, remove it.  If it asks you to restart, restart computer.

    Malwarebytes:  I am afraid you will have to install this on your computer.  This is the free version and if you like the program, you can buy a license for it.  One of the differences between paid and free versions is that the paid version updates automatically and the free version you will have to update manually.  After installing program, run a full scan and if there is/are anything found, delete it.  If it asks you to restart, restart system:

    Avast Antivirus:  There is a paid version and a free version.  The free version is good enough for home use.  Make sure to download the free version, unless you want to buy the program.  Install program and run a full scan.  If anything is found, get rid of  it or put it on quarentine folder.

    Comodo Firewall:  If the computer has XP installed, I would recommend you to download Commodo Firewall.  Free version is pretty good and good enough for home use:

    For all the software, make sure to download the 32 bit version

    After all the scans are done and your system is reported clean, restart your system and once it finishes restarting, run another scan with superantispyware.  If reported clean, you can connect your computer to the internet.  Once connected, update malwarebytes and run a full scan again.

    If on the other hand you want peace of mind, and as you said you have an installation disk of windows xp pro, you can use that disk to install the operating system on your computer.  Here is a link explaining how to do it from beginning to end:

    Keep in mind that once xp is installed, you will have to install the drivers.  It would be better if you look for the drivers beforehand.  What you do is, you go to the computer’s manufacturer website if it is a brand name computer or you will have to find out the motherboard’s manufacturer and model.  Once you have that information, go online to the manufacturer’s website and get the drivers for you motherboard.  Once you get to the driver’s download page, specify your operating system and then download all the drivers available.  Usually, there will be instructions about how to install the drivers and in what order.  Usually, you could install your operating system and then go online, because when you install the operating system it comes with generic drivers for ethernet and therefore you can go online.  As a final advice, I would recommend you to install the firewall and antivirus before you go online.

    A final software you might want to get, to keep your computer clean is crapcleaner.  Here is the link:

  • Jeff Fabish

    Yes, unfortunately it’s very possible. Installing your own operating system is a good idea, this is a sure-fire way to make sure any spyware he (may have) installed is removed. You’ll want to check inside the laptop to make sure there is no additional components that you do not recognize, as this could be a hardware keylogger, modified wireless adapter, etc. If it has a webcam, consider taping it to block it as software (and hardware) modifications can enable the webcam to run without a visible service and status light (indicating the camera is on). 

    If you’re not comfortable with checking the internal components, or simply don’t know what to look for, take it to a nerd friend or computer repair technician and ask them to inspect the parts. 

    If you have your own operating system disk, put it in the disk drive and restart. Once you restart, the boot loader should recognize the disk and you’ll be able to install Windows that way. Be sure to do a “full format”, not partial. Other than that, the installation is pretty self explanatory. 

    As an additional security precaution, consider flashing the BIOS to reset the firmware, as a modification in the BIOS will perpetuate after an operating system install. As always, install an anti-virus and firewall, Windows XP firewall will not suffice as it only does inbound filtering. If you have a wireless router, make sure you secure it, such as making a strong router administrator password, enabling MAC address filtering and enabling network encryption.