Prevent Your Computer from Being Hacked

By: Etienne A. Gibbs, MSW

Spyware, Keyloggers, Hackers, Cyber Terrorists, Cybercriminals, Cybergangs, etc. These threats are real and the fact is your computer is most likely infected already! Cybercrime is on the rise. You may not be the only one using your computer. Hackers may be using your computers and you may not even know it. Would you ever know it if your computer were taken over and being used by a hacker? Not likely. When a hacker hijacks a computer, the victim rarely knows. A computer that has been hijacked is one that is completely taken over by a hacker, or a group of hackers, to be used for their own purposes. The idea is that the real owner of the computer never knows their system has been hijacked, so the hackers can secretly use it whenever and however they want.

One of the latest hacking trends is called "Drive-by Hacking". Popular wireless Internet access points have now become a major target for hackers. Hackers simply take their laptop computers in their cars and drive through business parks or residential neighborhoods remotely scanning for open wireless networks. This is the latest version of the drive-by garage door remote theft where criminal would use universal remote controls to open garage doors without arousing the suspicions of neighbors, police, or home security companies.

Today millions of businesses and homes have implemented wireless networks for their convenience, and, sadly, for the convenience of the cybercriminals. And they don't even have to open your garage door to enter your home or business.

Now hackers can simply pull up outside, up to 600 feet away, and gain access to the network, the Internet, and every computer on the network. This kind of hacking has become so popular that you can even find public websites around the globe that sell maps to all the known "open" wireless networks.

Once your computer has been hijacked, the hacker claims ownership of your computer and there is little you can do unless you protect your computer in advance against this threat. In fact, in many cases when hackers have taken over a computer, they will even "heal" the computer by closing the security holes, so no other hacker can break into the computer and use it too. (Can you imagine? Criminals protect their hijacked computers from other criminals.)

Computers that have been hijacked and are under the control of a hacker are known as "zombies". Some of the more popular uses for a zombie computer include using it to send spam emails, distribute pornography, download illegal copies of software, and to anonymously attack another computer, a business, a website, or even a government agency.

There have been many cases in the U.S. and around the world where a business or home computer has been hijacked and used for illegal purposes without the computer owner's knowledge. These victims have had their computers used to distribute child pornography, deface websites, and even hack into government computers. In many cases, the owner of the hijacked computer (the business owner or the homeowner) has been arrested and hauled off to jail, only to be humiliated, demoralized and even convicted for crimes they didn't commit.

See the ABC News' 20/02 video about an unsuspected 16 year-old high schooler who was arrested as a child pornographer after his pc was hijacked and used to distribute child pornography. Click this link: ABC News' 20/20 video.

Hackers are very good at hiding behind their slave or zombie computers. A hijacked computer is a hacker's protection of anonymity. As unbelievable as it may seem, hijacked computers, zombie computers actually have a street market value in the hacker community. The better the computer and the faster the Internet connection of the slave machine, and the bigger the hard drive, the more it is worth on the market. Zombie computers are often leased out by hackers to other hackers, or even to organized crime groups, to be used for illegal purposes - without the computer owner's knowledge. If a hacker or a cybergang can take over a hundred or a thousand computers, they have an army of computers at their disposal.

Here are some facts:

  • If your computer has become a "zombie" or a "slave" to a hacker, the use of your computer could be for sale somewhere on the Internet or an auction website. Your computer's power is valuable to hackers.


  • Today, there are organizations that claim "ownership" of more than 450,000 zombie computers around the world that they use to anonymously send spam.


The best defenses are a combination of education and managed protection service. Off-the-shelve individual or combined anti-spyware, antivirus, and anti-spam software programs may not be sufficient protection, because hackers seem to stay one step of these programs. The popular off-the-shelf products offer you no personalized support. If you want help, you'll pay for it over and over again! If you need a virus removed with these cheap programs, you'll pay for it. You may get technical support from your PC manufacturer for security problems, but in most cases, you probably will not. Even if you do, it will likely be for a fee, and one that repeats itself should you need additional help down the road.

Because hackers will likely always be one step ahead of the security industry itself, software-based protection alone is not enough. 85% of current anti-virus users have been infected with a virus or worm! Have you ever had a virus you couldn't get rid of? Has your computer acted funny or has it slowed way down due to a massive spyware infestation? Does your computer have a virus, spyware, malware, or hacker hiding inside? Test it now to be sure. Go to www.SayNotoHackersandSpyware.com to take a free Internet security audit to determine which trojans and hacker spyware tools might be infecting your computers.

To protect yourself, you need an Internet security team of experts making sure that you, your family, and your business computer are always safe and secure. The best protection you can have in today's rapidly changing world of cyber-attacks is to have expert support for all your Internet security needs that will provide technical support without any hassles and without charging you extra fees. It will become even more critical than it is today as time goes on. You need to find your own personal team of experts to rely on. If you ever have a security problem, you will want to have a trusted expert you can call for professional help, without any hassles and extra costs!

Remember: When you say "No!" to hackers and spyware, everyone wins! When you don't, we all lose!

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