How Hackers Get Into Your Computer and How to Stop Them
If a hacker gains access to our computer, we might be looking at impending doom, which is why the thought is still terrifying. Our computers contain all kinds of personal information, and with the level of connectivity we are dealing with as a global community, anything can happen. Therefore, learning how to protect your computer from hackers and viruses is very important. The good news is that many of these processes are fully automated.
How Easy is It for Hackers to Get into Your Computer?
It's easier than you think. Cybersecurity statistics for this year suggest that nearly 2200 cyberattacks occur daily, which means hundreds of thousands of attacks in a single year. However, a hacker can only attack you if they have some information on your system. They could make you click on a suspicious link and gain remote access to your data. They may also fool you into giving up your online banking credentials, or social media account credentials through phishing messages. This is why security measures and taking care of online privacy are necessary.
Ever wondered why websites insist on you having a solid password? It is because any compiler tool can figure out your password combination within minutes if it is not strong enough.
Data sniffing tools are another example. A data sniffing tool seeks out data packets and can intercept them while in transit. While these tools have a lot of utility to them as well, they can be used for malicious activity online.
Even though current means of security make it harder and harder for data to be compromised, seasoned hackers will keep working on gaining access to any sensitive information that can be used against an individual and use it. So yes, it is pretty easy for hackers to access your computer. Thankfully, there are many things we can do to prevent it.
What Do Hackers Want from You?
Now that you know hackers hack computer devices, you are probably wondering what they could want from you. When we think about common incidences of hacking, we mainly think of big organizations. These include banks, government websites, and other platforms that have access to sensitive data. Therefore, many of us are compelled to wonder what a hacker could want from us.
Only some hackers want to challenge themselves by trying to hack high-security websites. Sometimes a hacker wants a little bit of money, for which your credit card information would be enough. They can blackmail you by accessing sensitive information like medical records or personal photographs. And at times like these, the hacker tries to attack the most vulnerable person they can.
Hackers can even try to gain remote access to your system or install malware in your computer, which will keep an eye out for any sensitive information you might feed into your computer. Considering how many cyber-attacks occur in a single day, we can assume that many of these hackers also succeed in their ventures.
How Will They Hack Your Computer?
New ways of hacking into computers keep springing up as technology keeps updating. Some of the ways that have survived the test of time are the following:
Hackers can use the design and branding of legitimate security companies and email you that your account or computer has been hacked. Many of these emails ask you to click on links or enter sensitive information on a webpage, with the help of which the hacker can gain access to information that would be useful to them. They would even take control of your device to see if they can dig anything useful.
Taking Advantage of Old Software
Our phones and computers are constantly installing updates. Sometimes they happen in the background, and you must permit the system to install updates. These updates take care of a lot of chinks in the system, from bugs to general maintenance and even security. Therefore, systems that are outdated are much more prone to getting hacked.
This is because outdated systems usually have security issues that are fixed in later updates. The hackers usually know about the security concerns that the old systems have, and that is how they can take advantage of the system too.
Phishing attacks have been some of the most common methods of attacking people online since the early days of the internet. They were reasonably simple initially since people would fall for scam emails telling them they had won a thousand dollars. But phishing scams have come far since then.
When a person clicks on a link from a phishing message, they are sometimes taken to a website that immediately risks their device. The link tricks the individual into sharing access to their accounts with them. For example, the website could mimic the interface of PayPal or Gmail.
If you have ever connected to a public WiFi network, you must have seen messages warning you not to share personal information. The network can be intercepted easily, and the hacker can access all the connected devices.
Shady websites and fake texts can often download malware in your device. The hackers can use the malware to crawl through your system, find any helpful information that they can use against you, and then keep the malware there for future use.
Sometimes the data of an individual gets compromised during company-wide data breaches. If your credentials get into the wrong hands during one of these data breaches, your data can be compromised, and you might be in trouble.
Can You Tell When Your Computer is Hacked?
It is usually possible to tell that you have been hacked since there are many signs you can look out for. Some of the most common ones include the following:
- Messages from your antivirus telling you that you have been attacked
- Notifications of sign-in attempts on your email
- Pop-ups opening up on your device on their own
- People telling you that they have been receiving unwarranted messages from your account
- Charges on your bank statements for purchases that you never made
- Spam emails
- Being notified of a data breach by your organization
It is mostly quite evident when your device gets hacked. Even though these are the most common signs, suspicious activity from your device or your account can signal that your device has been hacked.
How to Prevent Being Hacked?
Everyone’s devices are susceptible to an attack by hackers. Protection software and other means of preventing the attack include the following:
Antiviruses are the most common hackers protection software and have been emphasized by software companies and experts for decades. These days, most operating systems come with pre-installed antivirus software that also gets updated on its own. Antivirus software runs in real-time and detects any threats to your device as they come and take care of them. However, the software might sometimes fail to make stealthier attempts to breach your device. This is why running scheduled scans on your device are crucial to protect it from viruses or data breaches.
Firewalls also come built-in in most operating systems. Windows and macOS have an efficient firewall system to protect the device from potential threats. You should ensure that the firewall on your system works when you go online since it will prevent any malicious hacker from gaining access to your device.
You can even purchase firewalls for your hardware and network if you feel as if there is a need.
It is important to ensure that your operating system and all the software and applications you use daily are updated. Many of them do updates on their own, but many also ask permission from the user to allow for updates.
Older versions of operating systems and software are very easy to intercept. Updates in a system usually fix any security issues that could come up, which is why they are so important.
Use Strong Passwords
Stronger passwords are more difficult to intercept. Try to ensure that every password you come up with has a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols, along with just enough characters to make it harder to figure out. Password breaches mainly occur on platforms that allow unlimited password login attempts; many trustworthy ones don’t do that anymore. So the stronger your password is, the more difficult it is to breach your system.
Keep a Backup of All Useful Information
Even now, you can accidentally click on a suspicious link and lose all your data on your device. This can be a massive inconvenience, and the data will be nearly impossible to recover if you do not have a backup.
So make sure all your important data is backed up on the cloud. This way, even if a data breach occurs, you can restore all your important data to the device once your system is no longer threatened.
Backups are also automated these days. Your device will take care of backing up all your user data on its own. You just have to check it from time to time.
Don’t Stay Connected All the Time
Being offline is one of the easiest ways to protect your computer from hackers and viruses. Hackers need a device consistently connected to the internet to compromise it. As soon as the device goes offline, they could lose their progress.
Therefore, getting your computer offline every once in a while is generally a good practice. Try to shut your device at night when you are not using it. Keep it shut down or disconnected whenever you do not use it for an extended period. A hacker cannot get access to a device that is offline, so this will definitely work in your favor.
Enable Multi-factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication is a fairly new technology requiring you to log into your account multiple ways. So you will have to enter an ID and password, and then you will get a verification code on your phone or email. Performing both actions is the only way for an individual to access an account.
Multi-factor authentication adds a simple yet extra layer of security to your accounts. The added security makes it exponentially harder for the hacker to gain access to your system and is a great way to protect your data.
Many services and platforms ask you for permission before they allow multi-factor authentication for you. So it will work in your favor if you enable it everywhere you can.
Encryption is still one of the most potent ways to protect your data from hackers. You can protect your data on hard drives by using encryption tools which will protect your data. So even if the hacker gains access to important files, they will not be able to extract any data from them because they will be encrypted.
Most trustworthy websites these days are also encrypted, and they tell you so. So if you have to enter sensitive data on a website, ensure they are encrypted. One of the classic signs of an encrypted website is the padlock symbol next to the "HTTPS."
Ignore Suspicious Messages and Spam
There is a good reason for a separate spam folder in your inbox. This spam folder sometimes contains harmless emails but often consists of possible scams. They might be tempting to the untrained eye, offering discounts and warnings alike, but it is best to pay no heed to them. In fact, any suspicious message you get on any platform should be ignored.
What to Do if Your Device is Already Hacked?
Have you just found out that your device or account has been hacked? Here are some of the steps you can take to curb the damage:
Disconnect From WiFi
As we said before, the attack is useless without WiFi. So if you believe that your device is under threat, disconnect it from the Wifi network immediately.
The first step you should take when you are online again is to change passwords. This is also why keeping duplicate passwords are not recommended; if one account gets breached, all of them get breached.
If you believe that the attacker may have installed a virus or malware in your device, you should stop everything and run a full scan. If the antivirus finds any threats in your device, remove them immediately.
Contact Relevant Companies
If you think that a malicious website has taken over your credit card information, or information from any other payment portal, contact the tech support of that company. While credit card fraud and anything related to money terrify us, these attacks are usually the easiest to recover from.
When you inform the company about the information leak, they will look up a few things to confirm your complaints. They will stop any transactions coming through from your credit card and probably cancel it altogether. They will then issue you a new card that you can use after a short time period.
Other payment companies also make use of the same strategy. They stop incoming transactions and reset your account if an information leak occurs.
If your social media account or email account has been hacked, you can also contact the tech support of these applications. They will give you a step-by-step process of what you should do and try to recover any data you may have lost.
Learn from Your Mistakes
It is imperative to learn from your mistakes. If you were hacked the first time, one of the reasons could be that you should have considered all the security measures as you should have. So after most people face hacking, they assume that it will not happen again and make very few changes, if any. Usually, people change their passwords and leave it at that.
But if you have been hacked once, it is time to take more stringent measures to care for your security. Enable encryption and multi-factor authentication, and do whatever you can to prevent another attack on your system.
It is essential to be aware of cyber-security and hacking attempts, so if something like that happens to you, you should be able to deal with it. There are hundreds of security measures you can take that will tell you how to protect your computer from hackers and viruses. Knowing how hackers hack computer devices is one of the best ways to take apt prevention methods. If you take all the necessary measures to protect your device from hacking, you will likely not lose any important data.
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