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What if someone used your pc to
Old 06-01-2011, 01:10 AM   #1
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What if someone used your pc to

view porn? But worse yet child porn!

I ask this because I often see in the news someone busted for having images on their pc of child porn and one assumes based upon the fact it is a male about 50+ that he is guilty and I'd have to say he probably is. It is disgusting, I can't understand how anyone would want to look at such stuff.

So here's my question. My sister's pc needs work so it means taking it in to a local computer shop. I know she never would look at porn much less child porn but I asked her anyway. Of course she confirms she never would do such a thing, so no surprise there. However, there is one wild card. I asked her if anyone ever had access to her pc when she was not there and there was one time she had the bathroom painted, well I'll copy and paste her comment.

I understand your need to ask, and no, I absolutely have never looked at child pornography. Who else has used the computer? You, Bobby, and Jeff, none of which I'd be worried about. The jerk who painted the bathroom (when I say "jerk," I mean the guy who used to work at the store) would be the only other possibility. Would he do that? As much of a jerk as is he is many ways, I'd be shocked if he were a jerk in that way. Can I say absolutely, positively, unequivocally no? I can't. The possibility scares the life out of me, and it's not a chance I'm willing to take. This is an area I wouldn't take any ghost of chance with. I'd like to get something from scratch rebuilt is absolutely fine but in this day and age when things could be misconstrued and being a teacher, unfortunately many people want to assume the worst, I'm not willing for someone to be scanning the hard drive. Again, I swear to you that I'm not lying and trying to cover my tracks, but I cannot even open the door of possibility that something--no matter how innocent--could be twisted against me. An accusation like that, even if proven false, never goes away.So, no I don't want the computer guy working with this computer.

So now she is terrified that maybe, possibly, what if the jerk that painted may have used the pc and what if he looked at child porn. In all likelihood he did not use her pc and did not look at child porn but she is not sure.

Is there any way to discuss this with the computer repair guy or would this just encourage him to look for child porn and if he found something is she in deep $hit? It's going to cost more to buy a pc vs fix this one but now she is fearful and does not want to repair the pc!

Thanks.
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Old 06-01-2011, 01:52 AM   #2
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Frankly, if I was earning my living as a teacher, as she apparently is, I would feel just like she does about this.

I think she should just buy a new computer, under the circumstance. It's not worth taking the risk.

I wouldn't discuss it with the computer repair guy at all.
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no need to get a new computer
Old 06-01-2011, 03:00 AM   #3
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no need to get a new computer

Download and install Picasa from Google. In the preferences, let Picasa scan the entire hard disk for image files. When finished, view the images that were found on your PC.

Finally, to avoid problems like this in the future, set up one or more user account with a password which is only known to the legitimate users.

Cheers
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Old 06-01-2011, 03:25 AM   #4
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To be absolutely sure one should reformat the hard drive, wipe it with software (who's name I can't remember) that makes file recovery next to impossible by all but the most sophisticated and dedicated investigators. Then reinstall the operating system and applications.

That's too much work for most people. Browsers have a cache that stores viewed pages. Delete the cache, but then the files are still recoverable. That shouldn't be a problem unless one is under investigation. I don't know if photo management programs like Picassa look in the cache for images.

One thing you can do is install truecrypt. It's free. First defragment your hard drive. Next define a true crypt file that is as large as it will allow you. Creation of the file will overwrite most of the free space on the hard drive with seemingly random values. Delete the truecrypt file and you're done.
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Old 06-01-2011, 06:34 AM   #5
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Does anyone else think this is a bit much on the paranoia scale? What are the odds that some random handyman in the house for a day or two looked at child porn on your PC? Ten million to one? Smaller? If the PC is working the Picassa idea is a good one to look for unhidden photos - that might relieve her mind. If the PC is down, just take it in. But good grief don't start asking the repair outfit about child porn. They would probably contact the police. And if child porn was found in that case no one would believe her protestations of ignorance. Keep in mind the much more likely scenario to find child porn on an innocent user's PC is if the PC was compromised by some sort of malware and used as a zombie for storage by a child porn ring. In that case, the cash of photos would probably be encrypted and there would be evidence of compromise.

Bottom line, quit fretting about this.
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Old 06-01-2011, 07:18 AM   #6
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Does anyone else think this is a bit much on the paranoia scale?
Not really. Here's a link of current situations reported in our local paper:

Search - mcall.com

As you can see, charges were made against the owner of the PC. As to who actually did the download, does it matter? Even if I was in the situation of the OP (and I certainly don't download such trash), there is a chance that someone else may have, who had access to the PC.

Even if I would finally be cleared of the charge, it would take a lot of hassle (and probably lawyer/court expense) to clear my "good name"...

It's a concern these days, IMHO.
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Old 06-01-2011, 07:28 AM   #7
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Is there any way to discuss this with the computer repair guy or would this just encourage him to look for child porn and if he found something is she in deep $hit?
You're, of course, betting the computer repair guy won't be downloading crap

Nothing more to add that hasn't been covered.... if the computer is in working order then you guys could do a quick search. If the computer isn't in working order, well, I'm not sure I'd lead off any conversations with "hey, can you see if I have any porn on here?" but maybe "hey, I think this repair guy I hired downloaded stuff, can you check?" might work.

My pat computer advice is that you should only connect to the internet through a gateway, never directly to the cable modem; always have separate user accounts set up for each person that uses the computer and make sure those have passwords; if you know how, set up user accounts to have the last privileges possible; keep your anti-virus and anti-malware up to date.
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Old 06-01-2011, 07:29 AM   #8
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Does anyone else think this is a bit much on the paranoia scale? What are the odds that some random handyman in the house for a day or two looked at child porn on your PC? Ten million to one? Smaller?
One way to look at risk is the probability of an outcome. Another way is to look at consequences of that outcome. For example, when I did the preflight inspection on my aircraft there were checklist items that I knew were unnecessary because enough instances of the craft had been made and flown that it was common knowledge that some parts simply didn't break in anything short of a crash where it was a miracle that the pilot walked away. Did I skip those steps or hurry through them? Not a chance, because an in-flight failure would have been catastrophic.

Besides, I once had a computer savvy friend check her browser history after the remodelers had been in the house all day and she'd forgotten to turn of the PC. Yep, they used it.

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If the PC is down, just take it in. But good grief don't start asking the repair outfit about child porn. They would probably contact the police.
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Old 06-01-2011, 08:24 AM   #9
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Not child porn but years ago a pop-up appeared on my screen of a "porn female naked butt". I was so angry it was indescribably. This was the days before good blockers. I did reformat and start over. But, the pop-up did not seem to have placed any malware on my computer and many people might have just closed the window and forgot it. So it isn't just other people using your computer that can put tracks of porn on your computer. If the hoax was the same but the pop-up didn't appear, I would never have known the tracks were there.
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Old 06-01-2011, 09:45 AM   #10
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Do you or your sister know a trusted (I say the word trusted) computer geek who could fix the computer for you? I know I wouldn't want a computer repair place working on my computer because of them possibilty wiping out my info by mistake and that I have personal (such as financial) info on my computer.

I know there is software out there that cleans up your PC so if she is really concerned and can't find a trusted computer geek, she can get such software and give her PC a quick "scrubbiing" to make sure nothing dirty is on it before the PC repair guy works on it. One software that comes to mind is "Snitch Software"

http://hyperdyne-software.software.informer.com/
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Old 06-01-2011, 10:06 AM   #11
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If the computer isn't in working order, well, I'm not sure I'd lead off any conversations with "hey, can you see if I have any porn on here?" but maybe "hey, I think this repair guy I hired downloaded stuff, can you check?" might work.
If you are afraid of possible legal consequences any statements about porn could be viewed as evidence of guilty knowledge. I wouldn't say word one.

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One way to look at risk is the probability of an outcome. Another way is to look at consequences of that outcome...
...I once had a computer savvy friend check her browser history after the remodelers had been in the house all day and she'd forgotten to turn of the PC. Yep, they used it.
If people you don't know have used your PC there is a small chance they looked at regular porn but, other than embarrassment, that will have no consequences for you. Child porn, on the other hand, carries huge consequences but is also not something the average porn viewer will be into. I suspect the risk of child porn being picked up by a one off home repairman is about like getting hit by a meteorite. You are more likely to be intentionally setup by someone who hates you than accidentally compromised by a one time visitor. Nevertheless, if you are overly worried about such things the only solution is to NEVER let anyone touch your PC and to thoroughly wipe your hard drive before getting rid of it or sending it for repairs. Of course, wiping all evidence from your hard drive is more difficult than scanning for bad images. And on solid state drives it is almost impossible to get rid of everything.

I fix old folks PCs as a volunteer activity with a neighborhood group. Based on this conversation, none of those people should dare let me in the door. I could be setting up back doors so I can store child porn on their PCs. That is a much more realistic risk than a random handyman doing it. Someone with evil intent might very well self select for my sort of volunteerism (wow, now you are getting me worried). But, unless they are computer savvy themselves, what are the old folks to do when they have problems?
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Old 06-01-2011, 10:14 AM   #12
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But, unless they are computer savvy themselves, what are the old folks to do when they have problems?
Dr. Kevorkian, Dr. Kevorkian, report to 1172 Maple Drive, STAT!

Ha
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Old 06-01-2011, 10:57 AM   #13
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if you're using a Windows PC there is a built in search function on the start menu. This search function usually includes picture & video files as a stock option and it will show you all such files on your computer, even in the cache.
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Old 06-01-2011, 02:54 PM   #14
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I'd suggest she remove the hard drive, buy a new one, take the computer to a shop and have whatever else needs fixin' get fixed.

If she has much-needed files, back those up first, if she can. Otherwise hang on to the original drive and copy over what she needs when she gets the computer back.

I wouldn't utter a whisper to the repair shop about possible contraband on the system. They are usually required to report that if they find it in the normal course of a repair. Why invite the headaches that would follow?
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Old 06-01-2011, 02:58 PM   #15
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If she has much-needed files, back those up first, if she can. Otherwise hang on to the original drive and copy over what she needs when she gets the computer back.
A good purchase for that task might be an external drive enclosure (Disk enclosure - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

I've never bought one, but I've done business with New Egg in the past and they've been good.

Newegg.com - External Enclosures, External Hard Drive Enclosures
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Old 06-01-2011, 03:18 PM   #16
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I just saw a local news story out of Boston about a couple who had an unsecured wireless connection. Their neighbor used it to access child porn. One night the FBI raided the local couple and it took 2 years to get it straightened out!

Secure you wireless network as well (if you have one).
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Old 06-01-2011, 10:16 PM   #17
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Thank you for all your great replies. I have to admit I felt dirty just posting this question and questioned my sanity for even asking about this! I don't look at any porn and child porn is so disgusting and vile it is beyond comprehension. I was afraid this would be viewed as the I have a friend.... and it was me not a sister.... but thankfully no one that posted took it that way, I was concerned about that. And fwiw I don't think this is over the top, if someone is in your house it is possible they could do this, there are a lot of creepy people out there. Just because we'd never do something like this doesn't mean someone wouldn't.


Her pc's problem is the hard drive, it is pretty full and the pc has slowed down. Downloading and installing then running anything probably would be tough the way it is running. It is useable but needs attention. There is nothing on the pc re financial stuff or any confidential info.


My sister is a teacher's aide and as you can see from her comments she was totally freaked out and doesn't want anything to do with taking the pc in because what if! I spoke to her and determined that she was home while this co-worker painted the bathroom. Any time the bathroom door opened she went upstairs to check on what was going on. It really wasn't possible that he could have had any chance to use the pc. This painting was done at least a year ago so I doubt anything in cache would be that old. She lives alone so she is the only one to use the pc but I suggested using a password to protect it from something like this but no one ever is there unless she is. Also she does not have a wireless connection so no issues there.


I agree 100%, asking the computer repair guy about this is definitely going to raise his alert system! It would be rather foolish to start down that path. The work he'd do would be done with me there so I wouldn't worry about him doing anything re porn.


This is one thing tho that worries me, try to explain how something like this got on your pc. You are guilty until proved innocent. Now they nail guys for this but they find them in chat rooms trolling for kids. I have read in the paper about so and so being arrested after bringing the pc in for a repair so it seems reasonable that pc repairers do scan pcs for such stuff.

I have spoken to her and I think she is ok bringing it in for repair.
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Old 06-01-2011, 10:34 PM   #18
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I am on in the camp that thinks this is paranoid.... I would never be concerned with someone doing this... who wants to be caught on your computer even if not looking at porn...


Next, if it is the hard drive, get rid of all the temp files... I bet she has a LOT... they get rid of programs not used etc. etc.... there are programs to do this... then defrag so programs as next to each other on the disk... no need to take it in and pay someone to do these simple things....
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