Is Your Home Computer at Risk being hacked?

Few months back I was browsing my Iphone to get some news from the outside world because we have cancelled our TV service. I saw this news in Google news where millions of customer data has been compromised. Normally news like this would not get my attention, this got my attention due to its sheer volume of data being compromised and more importantly my wife shops there frequently.

“Today we are sharing that, as the result of the data breach, it has been confirmed that the partial personal information for up to 70 million individuals was also stolen. These are two distinct groups and are not linked,” Target manager of public relations Molly Snyder

Whenever I go to Target I am being reminded of the Data Breach and all these questions pop in to my mind. How can a big company like this can allow itself to be hacked? Does someone have my credit card information? Are they using it? Recently few weeks ago I heard the all federal employee data was compromised including their social security numbers. This also got my attention because I was still thinking about the last major cyber-attack. This one is probably worse because our government did not know about it until a year later. Now it is all the federal employees turn to think about their financial and social security. Is someone going to take a mortgage using my compromised information? Is someone going to buy a car using my information? What are they going to do? What can I do?

It is fair to think how to protect yourself from these hacker who have malicious intent. One is a Big Corporation who has lot of money to spend on protecting our information. The other is our Federal Government. You can guess that our Federal Government has lot of resources to make sure that our information does not fall under the wrong hands. Still they failed. Unfortunately there is not much you can do in the above two cases.

However you can do something about your home. If you have internet service at your home, then your computer at home is at risk. People with malicious intent does not target every home or every business, they need to have a reason to probe in to your computer. Think of them like a thief, they want to target if there is a big score or if it is very easy target. Most of us fall in to the second category. We take no effort to protect ourselves from these malicious hackers. We become victims.

Let us take some effort, let us make it difficult for the intruders. That sounds great, what can you do?

  • Protect your computers with passwords, make sure your passwords cannot be easily guessed. It must be more than 10 characters, combination of letters, numbers and special characters. Also something easy to remember.
  • Hackers have a tool that automatically probes pcs with credentials like admin - "no password", admin - "admin", if the tool is successful in one of the combination then it send a message to the hacker that this pc can be compromised. The hacker may look in to your pc and its content and will steal whatever he thinks that is important for him. This is an easy target. Do not be an easy target.
  • Install an anti-virus software, there are lot of ant-virus software out there in the market, most of them do a pretty good job. Research and buy one of them and install it in your pc.
  • Keep your PC updated with all the available security patches.
  • Do not open email or email attachments if you do not recognize the sender.
  • Do not go to suspect websites.
  • If you are not using your computer and do not expect to use it for next several hours, shut it down. No one can hack a PC which is turned off.
  • If you have wifi at home, make sure it is password protected.

Following the above steps will not necessarily prevent you from being hacked, it would make it difficult for them to do so. The hackers will move on to find easier targets.

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Is Your Home Computer at Risk being hacked?

Few months back I was browsing my Iphone to get some news from the outside world because we have cancelled our TV service. I saw this news in Google news where millions of customer data has been compromised. Normally news like this would not get my attention, this got my attention due to its sheer volume of data being compromised and more importantly my wife shops there frequently.

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