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Improving System Security by Logging CPU Usage


Invisible Processes

With an increasing number of computers constantly connected to the Internet, improving local system security is more important that ever before. Today you cannot leave your computer connected to the Internet for more than a few days without being probed by hackers. Of course you can install firewalls and anti virus software, use long passwords and avoid downloading executables or anything else that might contain viruses or Trojans; but this will only protect your system from being infected or hacked from the outside. What if there is already a Trojan or some other unwanted program running on your computer. How do you find out? Would you notice if there was an invisible process running in your system that was only active for a few hours every night?

Detecting Intruders

So, how can you find out what is going on in your system when you are not around. One way of finding suspicious processes is to look for unexpected CPU usage. Many of you have probably used this method already, using the Windows Task Manager to find out which processes are using the CPU. The Windows Task Manager is rather limited though, and it doesn't give you CPU usage graphs for each process. To make this method really efficient we also need to save the CPU usage for many hours, so that we can inspect the CPU usage graphs later looking for deviations and unexpected CPU loads. WinTasks 5 Professional is capable of logging CPU usage per process for up to 24 hours, which is more than enough for detecting suspicious process. WinTasks 5 Professional can also run in the background, continuously logging CPU and memory usage while consuming a minimum of system resources. To decide which processes have been active during the night, you simply launch WinTasks and open the resource statistics window. Set the time scale to 24 hours and look for deviations in the total CPU usage graph. If there are any longer periods of high CPU loads, step through all running processes using the arrow keys to find the processes that were active during that period. This gives you a good starting point for identifying unwanted processes, backdoors, Trojans, and viruses. After identifying the suspicious processes, you can simply search the Internet for the executable files to find out what each process does.

Conclusion

Logging CPU usage for longer periods of time can be an excellent method of finding unwanted processes and other security threats. Combined with other softwares like anti-virus programs and firewalls this will improve overall system security and help you to stop attacks from within your system.

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