Sunday, April 14, 2024

Do you know who is snooping around your computer right now?

How secure is your computer? Most of us have virus protection and probably feel pretty safe. But how many know that there can be many individuals out there who may be trying to snoop (or actually snooping) around your hard disk all day long? I would venture that there are not many sitting at their computer right now who have even thought about it!

High speed access to the Internet, i.e. DSL, cable and a couple of others have opened the doors to our work areas. I had even recorded attacks on my computer when I was using a local dial up service. The high speed access capability is great, I know that from personal experience. But it does open you up to extra risks since your Internet connection is probably open all day, even when you are not using it.

Intrusions on the Internet are common because hackers do frequent scans looking for systems they can break into. A typical hacker may scan thousands. He or she isn’t targeting you personally. In the hour preceding the writing of this article I had three attacks on my computer through my cable hookup. Two were hackers probing to see if they could get in and the other was a hacker checking to see if I had a specific Trojan program that might have compromised my system so that they could get in. This is a regular daily occurrence. Luckily my system has a software (firewall) program that detects and stops any attacks. It also logs in the attacks so that I can see what they were. The program is called Black Ice Defender, and cost me about $40. It was well worth the price. There are a number of programs out there and one that seems to be generally recommended along with Black Ice Defender is ZoneAlarm http://www.zonelabs.com which happens to be free (free for personal and non-profit use).

A while back I had read several articles in PC Magazine about these risks and that was what made me get a copy of Black Ice. By the way it is easy to install and use. I don’t know about ZoneAlarm but from my readings it appears it is also fairly simple. One of the ezines I subscribe to recently had a short article about a site called “Shields UP!” where you could go to check your computer security for free. If you are interested go to: https://grc.com/x/ne.dll?bh0bkyd2

These tests are for Windows systems. There will be two buttons, “Test My Shields” and Probe My Ports”. These tests take a couple of minutes each and they will give you a full report. When I was finished, I felt pretty good for the moment since they couldn’t get into my machine. In fact they evaluated it as “appearing that my computer didn’t even exist”.

You can sit there and say that you are only a little guy or gal, who would even try? Well that may be so, but on the other hand, do you know exactly what you have saved on your computer – credit card numbers, account numbers, personal information…? You would be amazed at the number of files that are saved on your machine by windows and other programs that you aren’t even aware of.

I have had to change credit card accounts twice in the last year due to some large well known companies who’s systems were attacked and credit card files were compromised. So it can happen, even to the big guys. The software is out there to help you, it can be free or relatively inexpensive. Why not feel a little more secure?

Article by Joe Reinbold, Publisher of Home Income Quarterly
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