There are many reasons for why a Hacker might target a computer, for fun, feeling of power, money or political reasons. They will also try to gain access to a computer so that they could use it for money laundry and bait purposes. They can attempt an attack from another computer virtually and leave it once they are done. His first concerns are his IP, MAC address, location coordinates and even desktop clock.
The Scrap Value of a Hacked PC, Revisited
A few years back, when I was a reporter at The Washington Post, I put together a chart listing the various ways that miscreants can monetize hacked PCs. The project was designed to explain simply and visually to the sort of computer user who can’t begin to fathom why miscreants would want to hack into his PC. “I don’t bank online, I don’t store sensitive information on my machine! I only use it to check email. What could hackers possibly want with this hunk of junk?,” are all common refrains from this type of user.
I recently updated the graphic (below) to include some of the increasingly prevalent malicious uses for hacked PCs, including hostage attacks — such as ransomware — and reputation hijacking on social networking forums. See the graphic and read more…
You might start considering strengthening up your computer security if you haven’t done so by now. Even if you did, new hacking methods appear every week or so, there are even methods that we don’t know about yet. Revising and doing a check once in a while is a good thing. It’s like cleaning your house every spring. See what new prevention methods appeared, new hacker baits, top most recommended anti-virus for this year and so on.
Tools for a Safer PC
An important aspect of securing any system is the concept of “defense-in-depth,” or having multiple layers of security and not depending on any one approach or technology to block all attacks. Here are some links to tools and approaches that I have found useful in stopping malware from invading a PC. Your mileage may vary.
Learn, Memorize, Practice the 3 Rules
Follow Krebs’s 3 Basic Rules for online safety, and you will drastically reduce the chances of handing control over your computer to the bad guys. In short, 1) If you didn’t go looking for it, don’t install it; 2) If you installed, update it. 3) If you no longer need it, get rid of it! For more on these rules, check out this blog post.
Keep Up-to-Date with Updates!
It shouldn’t be this way, but the truth is that most software needs regular updating. As a result, staying on top of the latest security updates can sometimes feel like a nagging chore. Not all software includes auto-update features that let you know about new patches, or if they do, many of these take their sweet time let you know. Fortunately, there are some tools that make it easier to learn when security updates are available. Secunia’s Personal Software Inspector is popular option. Another is File Hippo’s Update Checker. Both are free.
Going trough that article and applying those steps won’t take more than a day. It’s better to spend a day at home enjoying your coffee and finding new interesting things than spending a day at the bank just to come home and do what you avoided doing in the first place.