My Computer was Hacked!

My computer was hacked into the other day.  I was unable to open any of my normal web sites including my bank account, my credit card accounts, my Etsy site and my blog, Mizmlu’s Creatives.  I had no idea what had happened and did not know how to fix it.  So I called my computer expert, my daughter, Circe, who rescued me.  She was with a client and had me perform certain functions while she watched, to see what had happened and if I could fix it by following her instructions.  Turns out she confirmed that it was hacked into and the hacker had closed down all the relevant sites.  She was unable to do anything until she was finished with the client.  So then she logged into my computer from where she was, which I think is a magnificent option for her to be able to use.

 

It took her about 2 hours to complete the inspection and clean up all the garbage that the hacker had installed.  She then advised me to change all my passwords that related to any financial purpose.  That’s not as easy as it sounds.  Changing the one for the bank was the most difficult.  I had to identify myself in several ways so that they could be assured that I was who I said I was.  I approve of that even though it was time consuming.  I don’t want my password changed without my consent.

 

I rather liked my old password.  But now I had to come up with something I could remember and each one of the four I changed had different conditions.  Some needed a capital letter, others would not accept a punctuation mark or symbol.  I finally made up a password that consisted of 2 numbers, 6 letters and 2 more numbers.  Each time I entered the new password I was informed that it was a strong one.  That made me feel better.

 

There was an interesting article in the April issue of the AARP bulletin.  It dealt with the worst passwords people choose.  The most popular password is “password”.  No kidding.  It’s also the one most easily hacked.  Some suggestions were to use at least 12 keystrokes.  (I used only 10), use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, spaces, underscores and symbols.  Another tip is to pick a favorite TV show, movie, or a food you like, but with misspellings, symbols, or numbers.

 

The author suggested to gauge password protection, go to Microsoft.com/security and select “Create Strong Passwords.”  It’s worth taking the time to do this.  If you get hacked and want to reach my daughter at pctechsonline.com, or some other computer consultant, it will cost you at least $250.    Contact me if you have any questions.

HOW TO SECURE YOUR PASSWORD

HOW TO SECURE YOUR PASSWORD

Most of us do some kind of business on the internet. We buy things, we try to find information, we contact others, we do all sorts of things that can endanger our password and allow hackers to find us and thereby destroy our computer with a virus. Why they do this is incomprehensible, but it’s being done constantly. It is unfortunate that we must do whatever we can to prevent their access to our private information. You should change your password often and there are some things you can do to make it more secure.

When people are asked to provide a password for a new account they are usually in the middle of a complex set of questions and just automatically enter the first thing that comes to mind. That might be a pet’s name, a nickname, birthdate or something that they can easily bring back to mind when it’s called for the next time they use that web site.

You can avoid that sort of action by compiling a set of passwords ahead of time that can be used when required. Keep this list in a safe place. Memorizing it is better. The best passwords contain both words and numbers. Do not use a phrase, such as “bemyfriend”. Try to find words that have meaning for you, but do not become a string of words. For instance, dimplebluedinner. They have no connection to each other but may mean something to you. Or change the order, dinnerbluedimple, or misspell any or all of the words. You get the idea. Then add some numbers. The site you are joining will let you know what they require. Some want both upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. Try putting a number or punctuation mark between the words. Use a capital letter that is no part of any of the words.

Do not use the same password for every site you join. That’s one of the reasons for the list you create.

The experienced hacker has the tools to find your password and may begin by offering a service or product of some sort. There are tools you can use to avoid opening these offers, but you should just delete those you don’t recognize. If you think you might like the product, go to the company’s web site directly. A reputable company will have a web site.

A hacker will guess some aspect of your life, such as your birthdate. If you google your own name or your spouse’s you may be surprised at what you find. Whatever you have done online in the past is there forever. Any personal information such as relatives found in a death certificate gives the hacker a clue.

Some hackers attempt to sign into your computer using a variety of common words. Every word found is helpful to him. Other more professional hackers have a dictionary of words to try and access your account. They continue to try words and numbers at the rate of 100 per second until they get a hit.

You can prevent this type of search by adding a 5 second delay between each attempt. You can also add a penalty if a person has typed a wrong password more than a certain number of times you choose such as 3.

A hacker who can attack your server 100 times per second is quite persistant so anything you do to prevent this will make it harder for him. Another little hint I suggest is to add one CAPITAL letter and one punctuation mark such as an asterisk in between words or letters. That helps a lot!