Download Dangers: Social networking sometimes invites in hackers - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Download Dangers: Social networking sometimes invites in hackers

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Millions of Americans are on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter everyday, and so are the cyber criminals. They send fake messages to install viruses and, in some cases, try to take over the unsuspecting users' computers.

In Birmingham, forensics expert Gary Warner and his UAB students are tracking the growing problem.

"For the average consumer, social networking is a new way to be attacked and it's one of the most serious," Warner said.

The bad guys use Facebook and other social network sites to spread fast moving viruses. Some of that "malware" - as it's called - is capable of taking control of your computer without you ever knowing.

"If the hacker doesn't want the FBI knocking down their door, they can use your computer to distribute a virus; they can use your computer to store child pornography; they could use your computer to attack the Pentagon," explained Warner.

One Montgomery woman says her family was overrun with computer viruses, even the laptop her 10-year-old uses.

"Why would you need to put a virus on something on the DisneyChannel.com or Nickelodeon?" she asked. "I just don't understand what people get out of messing up other people's computers."

So how do you protect yourself from attack and a possible take over? Start with a strong password. Cyber crooks have software that can break many easy passwords in a matter of seconds.

"Criminals can guess as many as 30 million passwords a second. Put two words together and substitute some numbers for letters. [Example] Water-28-light. No one's ever going to guess that password," Warner said.

And, don't use a few passwords for all your accounts, especially when it comes to online banking. "One of the forms of protection, someone should be able to steal your Facebook page and your bank account still be safe," Warner said.

Then, make sure you have the best anti-virus software you can afford.

"There's free antivirus software out there such as the Microsoft Security Essentials," Raycom Media IT Specialist Kalonji Gilchrist said, "which you can download on line at microsoft.com/security_essentials. You can get that. That's number one. Make sure that's updated."

Installing a simple router between your computer and the bad guys offers great protection from an outside attack. 

"The cable modem plugs into the router. And the router has a bit of a firewall capability," Warner explained. "It does network address translation. Your computer on the inside cannot be targeted from the outside."

But make sure you put a strong password on any wireless router to stop an attack.

"Someone can sit as far as 500 yards from your house and use your internet connection to connect out on the internet and do bad things," Warner said.

Make sure your anti virus software also checks websites. 

"You want to have all the protections they offer - the firewall, the virus scanner but also that web page checker,'" Warner added.

Recovering from even a routine virus can be expensive.

"The amount to have a computer repaired is just about as much as it would be to purchase a new computer, and it's just ridiculous," he said.

Bottom line: to help avoid a situation, Warner says be suspicious. If the thing that someone sent you to click on doesn't sound right, check it out.

"Technology can solve a lot of problems, but the biggest risk to your personal information is usually the guy at the keyboard," he warned.

Think of your computer as your house. You wouldn't leave all your valuables on the dining room table in plain site. You keep them locked up with as many safeguards as possible between them and the bad guys. You computer should be the same way.

Good anti-virus software, strong passwords, inexpensive routers and common sense will help you keep your information safe.

Copyright 2010 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

  • Local NewsLocalMore>>

  • Surfside pharmacist expands business to incorporate ice cream parlor

    Surfside pharmacist expands business to incorporate ice cream parlor

    Sunday, July 15 2018 7:23 PM EDT2018-07-15 23:23:26 GMT
    The ice cream parlor was always a dream of Bundrick and will be open until 11PM (Source: WMBF News)The ice cream parlor was always a dream of Bundrick and will be open until 11PM (Source: WMBF News)

    SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WMBF) -- A dream has become a reality for one Surfside Beach business owner who has expanded his pharmacy into an ice cream parlor, and what better way to celebrate than on National Ice Cream Day. Daniel Bundrick is the owner of the Surfside Beach Pharmacy, now when you think about a pharmacy you probably don’t associate it with ice cream, but back in the day pharmacies did far more than just fill prescriptions and that’s exactly why Bundrick opened Th...

    More >>

    SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WMBF) -- A dream has become a reality for one Surfside Beach business owner who has expanded his pharmacy into an ice cream parlor, and what better way to celebrate than on National Ice Cream Day. Daniel Bundrick is the owner of the Surfside Beach Pharmacy, now when you think about a pharmacy you probably don’t associate it with ice cream, but back in the day pharmacies did far more than just fill prescriptions and that’s exactly why Bundrick opened Th...

    More >>
  • Police: Woman shot at, punched ex-boyfriend in Walmart parking lot

    Police: Woman shot at, punched ex-boyfriend in Walmart parking lot

    Sunday, July 15 2018 2:04 PM EDT2018-07-15 18:04:53 GMT
    Source: PixabaySource: Pixabay
    Source: PixabaySource: Pixabay
    NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Warrants could be issued as early as Sunday after a Myrtle Beach woman allegedly shot at her ex-boyfriend  and his new girlfriend in the parking lot of Walmart on Highway 17. North Myrtle Beach spokesman Pat Dowling says the incident happened in the parking lot around 1:20 a.m.. According to authorities the female suspect followed her ex-boyfriend to the Walmart before confronting him and punching him several times in the face. Dowling ...More >>
    NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Warrants could be issued as early as Sunday after a Myrtle Beach woman allegedly shot at her ex-boyfriend  and his new girlfriend in the parking lot of Walmart on Highway 17. North Myrtle Beach spokesman Pat Dowling says the incident happened in the parking lot around 1:20 a.m.. According to authorities the female suspect followed her ex-boyfriend to the Walmart before confronting him and punching him several times in the face. Dowling ...More >>
  • One killed, one hurt after dumpster falls on workers at Campbell's factory in Maxton

    One killed, one hurt after dumpster falls on workers at Campbell's factory in Maxton

    Sunday, July 15 2018 1:39 PM EDT2018-07-15 17:39:28 GMT
    (Source: Raycom Media)(Source: Raycom Media)
    (Source: Raycom Media)(Source: Raycom Media)
    ROBESON COUNTY, NC (WMBF) - One man is dead and another seriously injured after an incident at the Campbell's Soup factory in Maxton Sunday morning. According to Sheriff Kenneth Sealey deputies responded to a 911 call around 11 a.m. Authorities believe the workers were attempting to move a dumpster using a forklift when it shifted, falling on two people.  The status of the seriously injured man is unknown at this time.  Sealey says the incident is still under investi...More >>
    ROBESON COUNTY, NC (WMBF) - One man is dead and another seriously injured after an incident at the Campbell's Soup factory in Maxton Sunday morning. According to Sheriff Kenneth Sealey deputies responded to a 911 call around 11 a.m. Authorities believe the workers were attempting to move a dumpster using a forklift when it shifted, falling on two people.  The status of the seriously injured man is unknown at this time.  Sealey says the incident is still under investi...More >>
Powered by Frankly