What a Hacker Can Do to You

People, not computers, create computer threats. Computer predators victimize others for their own gain. Give a predator access to the Internet — and to your PC — and the threat they pose to your security increases exponentially. Computer hackers are unauthorized users who break into computer systems in order to steal, change or destroy information, often by installing dangerous malware without your knowledge or consent. Their clever tactics and detailed technical knowledge help them access the information you really don’t want them to have.

How can hackers find me?

Anyone who uses a computer connected to the Internet is susceptible to the threats that computer hackers and online predators pose. These online villains typically use phishing scams, spam email or instant messages and bogus websites to deliver dangerous malware to your computer and compromise your computer security.

Computer hackers can also try to access your computer and private information directly if you are not protected by a firewall. They can monitor your conversations or peruse the back-end of your personal website. Usually disguised with a bogus identity, predators can lure you into revealing sensitive personal and financial information, or much worse.

What are things that a hacker can do to me?

While your computer is connected to the Internet, the malware a hacker has installed on your PC quietly transmits your personal and financial information without your knowledge or consent. Or, a computer predator may pounce on the private information you unwittingly revealed. In either case, they will be able to:

  • Hijack your usernames and passwords
  • Steal your money and open credit card and bank accounts in your name
  • Ruin your credit
  • Request new account Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) or additional credit cards
  • Make purchases
  • Add themselves or an alias that they control as an authorized user so it’s easier to use your credit
  • Obtain cash advances
  • Use and abuse your Social Security number
  • Sell your information to other parties who will use it for illicit or illegal purposes

    Predators who stalk people while online can pose a serious physical threat. Using extreme caution when agreeing to meet an online “friend” or acquaintance in person is always the best way to keep safe.

    How will I know if I've been hacked?

    Check the accuracy of your personal accounts, credit cards, and documents. Are there unexplained transactions? Questionable or unauthorized changes? If so, dangerous malware installed by predators or hackers may already be lurking.

    How can I protect myself against computer hackers and predators?

    When you arm yourself with information and resources, you’re wiser about computer security threats and less vulnerable to threat tactics.

    Protect yourself while online

    Continually check the accuracy of personal accounts and deal with any discrepancies right away
    Use extreme caution when entering chat rooms or posting personal Web pages
    Limit the personal information you post on personal Web pages and social media
    Carefully monitor requests by online “friends” or acquaintances for predatory behavior
    Keep personal and financial information out of online conversations
    Use extreme caution when agreeing to meet an online “friend” or acquaintance in person

    Security Tips to Prevent Hacking

    Use a 2-way firewall
    Update your operating system regularly
    Increase your browser security settings
    Avoid questionable Web sites
    Only download software from sites you trust. Carefully evaluate free software and file-sharing applications before downloading them.

    Practice safe email and virus/malware protocols

    Don't open messages from unknown senders
    Immediately delete messages you suspect to be spam

    Make sure that you have the best security software products installed on your PC:

    Use antivirus protection
    Get antispyware software protection

    Guard Yourself Against Dangerous Online Threats

    An unprotected computer is like an open door for computer hackers and predators. To take it a step further, protect your computer from hackers by using a spam filter or gateway to scan inbound email or instant messages. Products like TotalAV, Panda Security or Norton Antivirus thwart dangerous malware before it can enter your PC, stand guard at every possible entrance of your computer and fend off any spyware or viruses that try to enter, even the most damaging and devious strains. While free anti-spyware and antivirus downloads are available, they just can’t keep up with the continuous onslaught of new malware strains. Previously undetected forms of malware can often do the most damage, so it’s critical to have up-to-the-minute, guaranteed protection.