Identity theft is becoming more prevalent. Just about everyone is using some form of technology nowadays, from smartphones to tablets to laptops to PCs. Even if you use a secure Internet connection, hackers can still get into your computer and find out your passwords to everything, from your Facebook profile to your bank account. This means that hackers can use your credit card information and make fraudulent purchases. They may use your information to get a driver’s license, credit card – even your tax refund.
How exactly can hackers get your information? It’s relatively easy for those who are technologically savvy. They can install software on your computer that allows them access to your password and web browsing history.
SEE MORE: 12 Ways to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft. Plus, if you're in the market for new tech, find out what's on sale and coupon discounts available from our coupon pages for Walmart, Best Buy, Target and Amazon.
Sound scary? Of course it does. That’s why it’s important to have anti-virus protection and know how to reduce your computer’s risk of being hacked. Learn more about how hackers are getting access to your password, and what you can do to protect yourself.
Hackers can access your personal information through the following ways.
Everyone loves free software, right? You may not feel that way when you get a Trojan horse on your computer. A Trojan horse is a type of malware that typically comes from free software that you download onto your computer. When a Trojan horse affects your computer, it allows hackers access to your computer. The free software you downloaded may seem to work fine, but every time you run it, the virus runs in the background. The lesson here? Pay for your software. Either that or do you research and only download software that comes highly rated from a trusted brand.
Phishing often involves emails from hackers spoofing websites that you commonly visit. For example, you might get an email from your bank informing you that you have an urgent message and need to read it immediately. In order to read it, you must log in with your username and password. Once you log in, you find out you never had a message. You had just been duped by a hacker, who now has your login credentials. He or she may now be able to pay bills using your account, withdraw money and more.
READ MORE: one of the most common phishing scams involve tax returns and you can read on about 12 Major Tax Scams to Avoid This Tax Filing Season on IRS "Dirty Dozen" List to see what to avoid next year
This software is placed on your computer and runs when the device starts up. The software logs every keystroke you make and then sends the log to the hacker. The hacker is then able to see everything you’ve typed in, which may include credit card numbers, usernames, passwords and other personal information. You won’t be able to see this software on your computer, so this is all done without you even knowing about it. One of the best way to take preventative measures against keylogger attacks is to install an anti-spyware program, say no to free softwares and rely on a more secure internet browser such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.
Remote Administration Tool
A Remote Administration Tool (RAT) allows a hacker to connect to your computer remotely. The hacker can see everything you see. He’ll be able to see which websites you visit and what you’re working on. Everything on your screen is visible would be made visible to him or her. If you have files on your hard drive, a hacker can copy them and put them onto their computer. This means that someone may have seen your embarrassing photos, the Word document that contains passwords to your accounts or the spreadsheet that shows your income and expenses. There are numerous settings and steps you can take to prevent or disrupt a current RAT on your computer and you can personally look into it by Googling 'how to remove RAT tool' and visiting/participating in a few forums or even look for a video guide on Youtube. Again, always keep your laptop/desktop protected with trusted anti-virus and anti-spyware program.
SEE ALSO: discounts and savings for computer protection software and get deals on a new tech by checking out our Best Buy deals page.
You likely heard of how stores such as Target and Toys R Us recently encountered a data breach, with consumers’ email addresses and personal information stolen. Hackers love to get access to rewards accounts, because if they’re successful, they’ll have personal information for potentially millions of consumers.
READ MORE: 12 Ways to Make Online Shopping Safer
Company Chat Applications
Your information isn’t safe even when you’re at work. Many companies use chat apps like Slack and HipChat, both which have been hacked this year. Hackers were able to access usernames, email addresses, passwords and phone numbers.
This is a new type of cyberattack, and while it’s not common, it can cause a lot of damage. You passwords and personal information can be stolen through low power leaks. These leaks are common in coffee shops and other public places where there’s free Wi-Fi. If you notice suspicious people and behaviors while you’re using your device in a public place, shut it off it won’t be affected.
Here are some good ways to prevent your device from being hacked:
Use anti-virus software such as McAfee or Norton.
Keep your firewall turned on.
Don’t open attachments in emails unless you trust the sender.
Create strong passwords that contain a combination of letters, numbers and special characters.
Never respond to emails requesting personal information. If you question the validity, call the alleged sender and ask.
The more you know about how hackers operate, the safer you’ll be. Be aware of your surroundings. Avoid using Wi-Fi that is not password protected. Be secretive about personal information – don’t give it out to anyone who asks for it. Stay safe when using technology and your identity will stay with one person – you.