The short answer is yes! There are a lot of malicious programs out there that are made for hacking into people's computers and stealing everything from information to passwords to personal data such as credit card information and bank accounts. One needs to be very careful these days on the Internet. There are a few ways to protect your computer that is not too costly and some are even free. The best way to protect your computer is to prepare in advance, and have a good game plan for when things go awry. Here are some basics, and I will include some links to previous articles where appropriate.
Your Internet ConnectionAnti-Virus SoftwareSpy ware removal softwarePasswordsSome things to do if you think you have been hacked
Your Internet Connection is the first item that you want to consider. Most people these days are on high speed internet connections. I find that a large number of people connect directly from the DSL/Cable modem straight into their house computer/laptop. Remember your internet connection is always on, and if your computer is connected in this fashion, then your computer by default is broadcasting your IP address to the world all day long.
Here is an example of a way that your computer will broadcast your information. I.e. You send an email message. In the header of the message is the originating IP address. If you are connected directly to your cable/DSL modem then people can use the information in the email header to find you and potentially do you harm.
An easy way to prevent this is to use a router. By using a
Anti-Virus software is essential preventative software that we should all be running on our computers. Plus we all need to keep our virus definitions up to date.
Spy ware is a problem that is growing and growing. This is the main way that people are getting hacked. Either they download software or go to a web site that automatically downloaded software without their knowledge and the software then begins to broadcast information back to someone about your personal information. There are a number of different spyware removal tools available on the internet for free. Again, this is a software that I keep up to date and run on a regular basis.
Computer passwords should contain the following format:
Have both upper and lower caseHave numbers and special charactersNot be common dictionary itemsNot be family member, pets, or friend's names.
Remember that you want your passwords to be complex and hard for someone to figure them out. If you do a search looking for software that will provide a user's password you will find a lot of software. If I think I have been hacked I do a number of things:
I ensure that my Anti-virus software has been updated. I will do a manual update just in case there has been an update since my last automatic update.I then also update my spy ware detection software (again this is normally updated automatically, but I am making sure that there are no new updates)After I have these items updated I will unplug my router and ensure that no more traffic is going to the internet. If I was hacked I would want to sever any possibility that more information would escape.I then run a full virus scan and spy ware scan on each computer. Often times I might run multiple scans (just to make sure)I then change passwords, adhering again to the complex password model above.Once I have completed these set of tasks for all computers I then plug in my router. But I am not finished yet! I then open a web browser window and connect to my router and I go to Administration. There I go to view the log on my router. By looking at this log over some time (by hitting refresh ever couple of minutes) I can view all outgoing activity. If my computer is sending information to someone else I should see this information in the log. For an example by examining this log I can see that some information was sent to IP address 188.8.131.52 utilizing port 10000. When I investigate this further I have learned that it is my Vonage VOIP phone connecting to Vonage and letting the Vonage phone system know that it is alive. So I am not worried about this item in my log file. For further investigating tips send me an email. router, your IP address is masked. Yes the router has an IP address for the internet, but your computer will have a private IP address that is only used for your home network. This makes it a little harder for people to hack into your computer. A lot of the routers these days also offer a firewall option. So the unit is both a router but also a low level firewall. Basically making it more difficult for people to break into your network. One other note; change the default password immediately and do not enable remote management. Remote management allows your router to be manipulated from outside your home or office network by allowing people to connect to the router via a specified port. If you do find that you need to have access to remotely manage your router, then change the default port number used.You can also Free Download Toolbar http://techbuddiesinctoolbar.ourtoolbar.com/