Detekt is a free tool for computers and devices running Windows operating systems that scans for traces of surveillance spyware on the system.
Designed to provide journalists and human rights activists with a program to detect potential surveillance spyware on computer systems, it can be downloaded and used by anyone running Windows computers.
The program, developed and released by a group of human rights and technology organizations including Amnesty International, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Digitale Gesellschaft and Privacy International, will alert users if it detects intrusion tools on the PC it is run on.
Detekt is simple to use. It needs to be started with elevated rights, which can be done with a right-click on the program and the selection of run as administrator after download. The application is compatible with Windows XP SP3 as well and you can run it with a simple double-click on systems running this version of Windows.
Update: Reportedly not working under Windows 8.1 64-bit.
The file itself has a size of around 26 Megabytes and the program itself is portable which means that it does not have to be installed before it can be run. The source code of the program is made available as well.
The developers suggest that you cut the Internet connection before you run Detekt on a system and close all open programs as well. This is done to avoid false positives and improve the performance of the scan.
The scan itself takes a while to complete and it is a bit irritating that the window refreshes every five seconds in that time. You can minimize the Detekt window during the scan though to avoid seeing those refreshes all the time.
The scan may or may not find spyware on the computer. It needs to be noted that even if it does not find any it does not necessarily mean that there is none. Spyware may have been designed to avoid detection or specifically Detekt's scanning algorithm.
Scan will highlight potential surveillance software that it discovered during the scan.
This may include the name the surveillance software is known by and a short description of what it does and who uses it.
The official website offers assistance when it comes to the next step if surveillance software was detected during the scan. The main suggestion is to stop using the computer immediately and cut off its network and Internet connections. Several email addresses from organizations such as the EFF are provided that may also be able to help.
Detekt is not a surefire way to find surveillance software on a computer system. While that is the case, it can be used as one of the defensive mechanisms that you have in place to protect your computer and data from third-party access.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.