Are You Vulnerable to Computer Hacking? 7 Ways a Hacker Can Get Into Your ComputerUpdated: June 02, 2019
There are many types of hacking techniques hackers can use to break into one's computer and steal private information. Can you become their next target?
Anyone who uses a device to connect to the internet is vulnerable to hacking attacks.
Hackers turn to computer hacking for multiple purposes. Some of the worst things hackers can do if they get access to your computer are:
- Steal your bank information and money
- Get hold of your usernames and passwords
- Open credit cards in your name
- Use your Security Number to steal your identity
- Sell your information to others
With these risks in mind, let's take a look over the most common types of hacking techniques hackers use to break into devices so you learn how to protect yourself from computer hacking.
One of the ways you can attract hackers to your computer is by making yourself noticeable online. If you have an online presence that sends out signals you might be a profitable pray, it can make people want to hack your computer or devices so they can get hold of your money.
But, believe it or not, this kind of targeted hacking is less common than mass hacking. Hackers do have other ways to get into your computer, and they don't need to know who you are or to target you in particular.
There are special pieces of software that allow hackers to hack into computers in an automated manner.
If your computer has been hacked, the hackers can do almost anything they want with your device. They can see all the files on your computer, access your accounts or infect it with more malicious programs causing your device to crash.
How vulnerable you are to these kinds of cyber hacking depends on how much information you keep on your device. If you, for example, don't save the passwords to your accounts, don't let browsers remember your credit card credentials, and you don't keep sensitive files at hand, then you'll minimize the chances for hackers to take hold of your money or other private information.
Besides stealing your money, a hacker can also make your computer to crash. It all depends on what's the hacker's goal and what type of malware he uses.
As you can see above, some of the malware hackers use are called keyloggers. These programs record every move you make on your computer from the applications and files you open to what you type on the keyboard.
If a key logger is running on your computer and you type in the password to log into your bank account, the hacker on the other end will be able to find out the credentials and gain access to your money.
Hackers do form a community. They are exchanging information and even stolen software with each other. To make these exchanges safer, they use the computers of the ones they hack as a trading center. Someone hacks your computer, stores the stolen software on your device, then sends his other hacker friends to get it from there. This will result in your computer being visited by multiple hackers.
For hackers to hack your computer, they often rely on open ports. These are not the physical ports of your computer (such as the USB port) but the endpoints of the internet connection that gather the data packets based on their scope (sending an email, accessing a webpage). If these ports are open, someone can send them data packets containing malicious information and you'll end up with a hacked computer.
To find computers with open ports, hackers use dedicates software. Each port can receive a certain type of information, so the hackers send data packets containing the information it needs for the targeted port. If the port they target happens to be open on your device, then the hacker gets access to your computer without any permission requested from your part. This process is automated, which means hackers are not targeting specific people but rather they send these data packets to thousands of computers so they locate vulnerable devices.
To prevent computer hacking through open ports, the first step is to enable a firewall and set it up to block as many ports as possible. The job of the firewall is to protect your ports from being accessed by third-parties.
One of the most commons ways of hacking someone's computer is via their email. This method is also known as phishing.
Hackers often send fake emails containing either downloadable malware or malicious links. These emails will appear as being sent by someone you trust, such as your bank or someone you know, and they try to trick you into giving them personal information.
For example, you might receive an email from your bank asking for your username and password to confirm your identity. Needless to say, the webpage you'll access is fake and once you type in your password, the hacker who sent you the disguised email will have access to your bank account.
These emails can also encourage you to download an attachment that contains malware so the hacker can get into your computer.
To prevent computer hacking, one of the most important aspects of your online surfing is to be very careful what you download online.
Often enough, hackers upload programs with malware on websites and disguise them as legit applications.
Say you downloaded a game and you need a crack to make it work. You go search for it online, stumble upon a website to download it from, and click to run it. You won't know if the file you downloaded contains a malware, especially if you don't have an antivirus software to warn you. And if the file is corrupt, the moment you open the file, the malware will take hold of your computer.
Malicious websites are one of the common methods hackers use for computer hacking. Malicious websites are designed to install malware on your computer if you happen to access the site.
Usually, you have to take certain actions for the malware to get into your computer (like clicking a link, download a file, or either clicking on pop-up's button). For example, a website might ask you to install a piece of software on your device so you're able to play a video. Because it's not uncommon for a site to ask for a dedicated software to get certain features and because the website looks legit, it's an effective way for hackers to get into your computer.
The worst part about malicious websites is that there are cases when a file will be downloaded on your computer without requesting for your permission or tricking you into accepting the download with misleading messages. Once the malware takes hold of your computer, it will be tough to get rid of it. Furthermore, your antivirus might not be able to see the thread until the damage is done as hackers do their best to make it difficult for the malware to be noticed.
Using a WiFi connection without a password is an invitation for hackers to get into your computer. When you don't use a password, the connection is open to anyone that lives or passes near your house. And the risks are huge.
For a hacker with a software dedicated for sniffing, it will be extremely easy to get into your computer and read all the data you send through the WiFi connection because it is not encrypted.
Another reason why hackers seek unprotected networks is for illegal activities. If a hacker connects to your router and uses that connection to steal someone's money, for example, the police will knock on your door as they will track down the crime as coming from your house based on the IP address.
Even though there are ways to hack a WiFi password, the more complex it is, the harder it is to break. Make sure your router supports a strong encryption and always set up a password that's difficult to hack.
Even though free internet sounds exciting, especially when you must really check out your email, it can put your personal information at risk.
If a hacker has access to the internet router you're connecting to, it will come easy for the hacker to get into your device and steal your passwords or private data.
Just because the WiFi network of your favorite restaurant is password protected, don't assume it is also safe. You have no idea who has access to the router and they can turn out to be hostile. Moreover, hackers can create fake WiFi connections that appear as coming from a known place. For example, they might create a WiFi spot near a coffee shop using its name. People who see that connection will believe the signal comes from the coffee shop and use it to surf the internet, giving hackers access to their devices.
This computer hacking method is not as common as you must physically get in contact in the USB drive.
Sometimes, hackers infect a USB drive with malware software and they left it behind in coffee shops or public places. Someone passing by might take the USB drive and plug it in their computer. Needless to say that once the drive is in, the computer gets compromised and the hacker gets access to the victim's private information.
This type of computer hacking is the easiest to prevent as all you need to do is avoid using USB drives randomly found or those given to you by strangers.
Use an antivirus software - An antivirus will prevent computer hacking to a great extent. Make sure you keep the program updated and scan your computer for viruses as often as possible.
Keep your devices updated - An updated OS (Operating System) and applications can help you avoid computer hacking as it will fix some of the vulnerabilities.
If it’s suspicious, don’t click it - When you receive emails from untrusted sources, don’t open them. If you receive an email from an important platform, like your bank or even Facebook, asking for your password, don’t give it in. These kinds of services don’t usually randomly ask for your credentials.
Think twice before downloading - I know you want the latest crack for your favorite game, but before you click on installing it to your computer, first make sure you can trust the source. This is where an antivirus software is crucial. If you download something malicious, the antivirus will warn you before you get to open the file and become exposed.
Enable the firewall - To make the firewall more effective, learn how to limit the number of ports your computer uses to receive internet data.
Use a VPN - By using a trustworthy VPN software, you take the biggest step into protecting yourself from computer hacking. You’ll be able to browse the internet anonymously and keep your data private at all steps. Hackers won’t be able to trace your online activity, hence keeping you out of their radar. Besides, using a VPN also comes with many other benefits.