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What is Hacking and Who Benefits from It?
So picture this, you're playing an online game, happily. You've just levelled up and acquired a totally awesome new item. Life couldn't be any better virtually. You log off, sleep and when you log back in you realize that - BHAM! everything's gone! Your gold is depleted, your account has been wiped out and you're left in the middle of the forest with no clothes and no weapons. Even worse, a monster is heading your way and it seems pissed. You're lost and confused and seriously freaking out, wondering what the heck is going on.
Congratulations, you've just been hacked.
So what is hacking anyway and who benefits from it? Judging from my little picture-this moment, I'm sure you've already gotten a feel for this hacking menace. Some wiseguy, decides for the heck of it, that he wants to peek into your privacy and access information about you and claim it for himself. This is creepy, and most importantly, it's not really just gaming accounts that are vulnerable to hacking attempts. Your online bank account, inboxes, private information are at risk too and sometimes, a few tips can really make the difference between being safe and being screwed over.
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1,2 I Buckle My Shoe
1. Managing Computer Settings
A lot of computer users have this problem, they install their OS's, download their essentials and just move on. What you need to realize is that you can tweak your security settings to suit your needs (or in my case, adjust the levels of paranoia). The control panel is there for a reason, ladies and gents. Delete unneccesary programs, manage your accessibility options and find out what programs are running while your computer is on. Not only will this help tighten the security in your computer, it will also help speed things up a bit.
2. Firewall Up
Normally, your OS (referring to Windows) already has its firewall up, most operating systems do. That means, for the most part you have some semblance of security in your computer. However, it doesn't hurt to have software or hardware installed that will filter the traffic in your computer, making sure that what's happening in the background is legit and safe. Try installing Zone Alarm, or Windows Defender. These programs will definitely help in preventing hacks.
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3, 4 Knock at the Door
3. Anti-Virus Softwares
You'd be crazy not to get one, an anti-virus software that is. If you can afford to get one, buy a subscription for McAfee or any other trusted anti-virus software. Otherwise, certain free anti-virus applications are available at download.com. I suggest, AVG, Avast or SpyBot. However, there may be more softwares that are suitable to your needs, so read up and download one, just to be safe.
4. Visiting Websites
I like to use Firefox when I browse the net for various reasons, but one of the most important one is because of their add-ons. One particular add-on I like is World of Trust (and the McAfee equivalent) that rates a site for its security. Visiting websites can be a tricky subject these days as a lot of net predators are just waiting to bounce on you and take whatever they can. I recommend visiting only sites that you know, and you're sure that are safe – meaning, stay away from the porn and sites that promise you money for nothing.
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5, 6 Pick Up Sticks
5. Downloading Items
Who doesn't love to download stuff online? Free downloading programs like Shareaza, Limewire or Morpheus will always have something that we want to have on our computer, torrents are available readily and friends love to send and share stuff over the net. But be careful, as this is where a lot of bad things go down. Downloading from sites you don't know of, or programs that you're not familiar with could open you up to a world of pain. You'll never what you're getting. Even the songs you might be downloading could be a trojan in disguise. So be sure to run a virus check on everything that's being sent to you regardless of whether you found it on a site, had it sent via email or shared by a friend. Remember, you can never be too careful!
6. Regarding your Passwords
Now this one is a doozy. Every account you have requires a username and a passoword. That means, to access an account, you'll need to know what your password is. The most important thing here is to never use the obvious. Words like Iloveyou, your name, or birthday or your favorite color should never be used (unless you make it a hodgepodge of letter, numbers and codes). Why? Because everyone will try those passwords first, just to see if you get lucky. The thing is, hackers don't get lucky. They use sophisticated programs that will try to grab the password for them. A password consisting only of characters will take seconds to crack, but alphanumeric, even coded ones? Years.
Also, use a different password for each account you use. For your email, PayPal, WoW account, Ragnarok account, Yahoo - anything! Always, always use a different password. It's also good to change your password every few weeks! If you're like me, and will have a hard time remembering the password, then try and use a program that will store your passwords for you.
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7, 8 Lay Them Straight
7. Regarding Personal Information
Whenever you sign up for something, you're being asked to provide sensitive information over the net – the username, password, secret question or even bank details. Hackers know that the easiest way to get to your account is to find out these things. Don't share you personal information EVER! Your friends already know them and strangers don't need them.
8. Storing Account Details and Information
Usually, when you sign up for something, right after the entries - your personal information gets sent to your inbox for safekeeping. Now, usually its ok to just archive them. BUT, remember that if you do, hackers can access all your account details in one account. This means once they got that one, they've hit the motherload and from there on, its easy pickings. Me, I don't like to keep my details stored on my inbox. I save them in a word file, then use file protection software to store that file. That way, nothing gets taken from me, unless I willingly give it away.
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9,10 A Big Fat Hen
9. Running Tests
Once in a while, subject your computer to malware tests, anti-virus checks and vulnerability tests. This will essentially help weed out the unwanted and potentially harmful stuff in your computer, tell you what you can do to help protect yourself and let you know what you need to do in order to keep your system running fresh and clean. And in that regards, we have the last item on the list...
10. Maintaining Updates
Don't forget to update drivers, software and grab game patches online. Patches and upgrades means they've found things that were malfunctioning in the previous patch and have amended it, or have devised more ways to help keep your account and your gaming to an all time high. That goes the same for non-gaming software, updates and patches. You'll never know what you might be missing out on if you don't.