How Hackers Take Control of Your Computer

Guy hacking on his computer

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There are many bad situations that can happen when a hacker takes over your computer. Credit card information stolen, tons of work lost, identity theft, and many more horrible situations. So in order to prevent these terrible things and others from occurring we are going to tell you how hackers take control of your computer and show you where you are most vulnerable and why.

First off we must know what a hacker is in order to protect ourselves from them.

What’s A Hacker?

While there are many different variations of the definition, a hacker is essentially someone who uses technology to gain access or control of other technological devices. Hackers are typically divided up into two categories, White hat and Black hat hackers.

White Hat Hackers vs. Black Hat Hackers

White hat hackers are known for using ethical methods of hacking in order to expose vulnerabilities and increase security for a machine or program. Black hat hackers are known for using unethical methods of hacking to access important data or take control of one’s device for personal use, which is typically illegal.

For the most part the only hackers you should be concerned about are black hat. To ensure that you can protect yourself from being attacked it is important to understand how hackers take control of your computer.

How Hackers Take Control of Your Computer

While this won’t begin to get into the complexity of the techniques these hackers use, we will cover some of the basic ways you can be exposed by their attacks.

Port Scanning

Your PC has many “ports” which are vulnerable to attack from a hacker. These ports can be used for many things such as to communicate internally with your monitor or printer or to communicate externally to the internet.

In addition to these ports you also are assigned a unique IP address from your Internet Provider that acts as an identifier and and is also the way you send and receive information.

Your IP address looks like this…

<i>xxx.xxx.xx.xxx</i>

(where the “x” would be replaced by a single digit one through nine)

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If you have a broadband or DSL connection your IP address rarely changes. This is different to when people used dial-up connections that would give them a different IP address every session.

Typically with broadband connections you are more likely to be online for longer sessions of time which leaves a larger window open for hackers to attack.

Hackers use “port scanning” software to hunt for vulnerable computers with open ports using your computer’s IP address. They will then send malicious programs through these open ports onto your computer.

Trojan Viruses

Another common way that hackers use to gain control of your computers is by sending out Trojan Viruses disguised as email attachments. Hackers typically send out these messages to 1000s of users with enticing headings and an attachment which they are hoping you will open. When the attachment is opened the virus loads itself onto your computer and allows the hacker to control your computer.

Hackers also bundle Trojan viruses into free downloads like screensavers, music files, and movies which are commonly installed on home user’s machines. Illegal P2P networks also circulated large numbers of infected files.

Reduce Your Risk of Being Hacked

Here are some steps you can take to reduce your risk of hackers taking over your computer:

1) Make sure you are receiving the latest Windows or Apple operating system  updates.

2) Have a good firewall installed.

3) Install a spyware removal tool and get the spyware definitions up to date. Run a scan at least once a week or after being online for a long period of time.

4) Install an anti-virus program and keep the virus definitions up to date. Carry out a virus scan at least once a week.

5) Use a Spam Filter to stop dangerous email.

 

More Hacker Prevention Tips

  • Don’t open suspicious looking email messages especially if they have attachments.
  • Be careful what free software you download. Only download from reputable sites.
  • Remember to switch off your broadband connection if you are away from your computer for a long period of time. Get into the habit of switching your computer and broadband connection off at night, this is especially relevant for wireless network users.
About the author

Computer Tutorials Staff