News of privacy concerns and eavesdropping on Internet traffic bombard us every day. You've probably heard of all the allegations involving the NSA and government agencies spying on various people. You might not think it affects you, but it does. Even as a casual Internet surfer, there are several people who could be spying on you even from within your own home. Find out where you are susceptible to being spied on below:
Nothing is Private at Work:
If you're on someone else's network, nothing you do is private. At work, employers can monitor your phone calls and computer activity. Most people know that Internet and email activity can be monitored, but did you also know that your employer can sneak desktop software on your machine that takes snapshots of your activity? If you have any private emails or documents open, your employer can see that activity without your knowledge. Browse Facebook? He can see that activity as well.
You Can Even Lose Your Privacy at Home:
You probably think your home is safe from eavesdroppers, but it's not entirely bulletproof. If you don't have your wireless routers protected and configured properly, hackers can gain access to your private home network.
Hackers can also trick you into installing viruses that give them access to your system remotely. These tools are called RATs (remote access Trojan). A RAT runs in the background of your computer and lets a hacker access your files, software, and even passwords.
Another option for hackers is keyloggers. Keyloggers are programs that also run in the background of your computer, but they log keystrokes. Let's say you decide to open your browser, type your banking company's URL into the browser, and then type your user name and password. The hacker now knows your banking institution its website, and your user name and password to access your account. Keyloggers silently send these details to the hacker over your own wireless network, and they are powerful tools used for identity theft.
What Can You Do?
Luckily, you can defend yourself and avoid the pitfalls of RATs, keyloggers and viruses. The most important rule on the Internet is never install software from sites you don't recognize. For instance, downloading and installing software from Microsoft is probably safe, but installing software from "mycrackedwarez.com" is probably not safe. Use your better judgment when installing software from specific sources.
Install pop-up blockers to avoid seeing scam advertisements. For instance, one popular way to spread malware is to create a popup that says your Flash plugin isn't up-to-date. Normally, you would go directly to the Adobe website and download the update there, but some people click the popup ad and install software from a virus distributor. Popup blockers will stop you from seeing these scam ads.
Don't enter any sensitive data on a site you don't trust. Only type your social security, banking information and credit card numbers on a safe site such as your bank. You can avoid phishing sites by always typing URLs into the browser and never accessing sites from links in email.
Some other miscellaneous protective tasks are keeping your antivirus software up-to-date, making your passwords complex and long, and never sharing private information with other users using email. VPN software can help. VPN protects the privacy of your IP address and encrypts the data you enter into online forms.
When you choose an antivirus program, choose one with good reviews and strong protection. Choose one with frequent definition file updates, because these files are what antivirus programs use to identify new viruses.