07 Apr Can someone remotely break into my computer through the WAN?
Yes. In fact, unless you enable anyone to openly access your computer, this is the most typical technique for someone to get into it (e.g. library).
When you connect your system to a network, whether it’s local (LAN) or broad (WAN), it becomes accessible by virtue of needing to transmit and receive data (otherwise, what’s the point of joining it in the first place?).
It’s therefore an issue of how accessible your machine is.
There are several methods for “hacking” a computer, but the premise is straightforward. Find an open door or a flaw in the machine’s existing software and exploit it to cause the computer to execute code it wasn’t meant to execute.
This code may encrypt your data (ransomware) or provide a channel of communication so the remote user may give commands (trojan).
There are numerous methods for defending against external threats. However, in general, you should not enable other users to interface with applications running on your system. Connections between programs are made using logical ports. Firewalls, for example, block these logical ports, preventing connections from the outside.
So, how do individuals be hacked if everyone I know has a firewall in place?
The most popular method of circumventing firewall protections is for users to execute the code locally (unknowingly). Hackers will deceive you into executing a software that will either do anything to your computer or install a “server” that will open a port and wait for remote orders from them. This is often accomplished through e-mail attachments or freeware (yes, that “free movie player” or “kewl free game” you got is most likely infected with a hidden payload called trojan).
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Then there are software problems to consider. When Microsoft releases a security update, it is generally due to the discovery of a “hole” in their code. For example, if an application breaks on you, you will observe a problem
Hackers, on the other hand, see possibilities. There is a vulnerability somewhere in there, and they will want to exploit it. Other times, it’s simply a blunder on the side of the creators. This is typical for services that must pass across firewalls, such as web servers, e-mail, and remote desktop connections.
To summarize, here are some measures you may do to defend your PC from WAN attacks:
• Purchase a firewall. It will prevent unauthorized access to the ports and lock down your machine. There are both logical and physical versions.
• Purchase an antivirus program. It will prevent some things (such as dubious e-mail attachments) and actively prevent others (when software runs without your express consent).
• Do not run applications on your system unless you are completely certain of where they came from (for example, Excel), and even then, make sure they are from a reliable source.
• Do not open attachments unless you are certain they are legitimate, and even then, run your antivirus software on them.
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