Should I Worry About Hackers?

By Alina Bradford
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Hackers have been romanticized in today's culture thanks to movies and television shows like "Live Free or Die Hard" and "Tron." In reality, certain hackers can turn your life upside down and get away without a trace, especially if you don't have proper anti-virus software in place.

What Are Hackers?

There are several definitions of the word "hacker," but when it comes to your computer and your personal information, there are only two definitions you need to know. According to the "Merriam-Webster Dictionary," a hacker is a professional computer programmer. This definition covers a wide range of people and isn't very intimidating.

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The second definition is more foreboding: "A person who illegally gains access to and sometimes tampers with information in a computer system." The definition may say "sometimes," but in all actuality, hacking is a very common activity for criminals, and it can be done without your knowledge and without the thief ever physically seeing your computer.

How Does Hacking Work?

One of the most common forms of hacking is infecting a computer with malware. Malware is software that is intended to infiltrate a computer.

Some hackers create malware for fun, with the specific intent of harming computers. Other, more nefarious people, create malware that will record information that you type and relay it back to the creator of the malware. The information is then used to gain access to your personal accounts to steal your money or your identity. This type of malware is called a keylogger.

How Does Malware Infect Computers?

Most malware infects computers when the owners unknowingly downloaded it from the internet or an infected email message. It can come in the form of an email attachment from someone you don't know. Malware can also be downloaded from websites. All you have to do is click on a link. Once you are on the site, the malware will be downloaded onto your computer without your knowledge.

What Happens When My Computer is Hacked?

The problem with this type of crime is that it is very hard to track down the person who created the hack. Often, the criminal is never caught and the victim is left with the responsibility of paying back creditors. This is why it is important to prevent a hacker from infiltrating your computer in the first place.

How Can a Computer Be Protected from Hackers?

The best way to protect a computer from hackers is to invest in software that blocks, finds and destroys hacking software. This type of protective software is often called anti-virus or anti-malware software. Most security packages are affordable and easy to use. They actively scan your computer for hacks and remove them from your system before they can do damage or spread to other computer systems in your network. Be sure to purchase anti-virus or anti-malware software that includes an anti-keylogger feature for maximum protection.

Hackers are a very real threat to your computer and your personal well-being. Make sure to safeguard your computer against keyloggers and other malware by using high-quality internet security software.

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