Who’s peepin in on your PC?

Crooks seem to come at you every way you look. We all know that crooks use PC’s to steal identities and things like that. We all know there are viruses all over the internet and in emails. But what many don’t think about a few simple things that can stop many crooks in their tracks.

For those saying “whoa judge you know PC security too?”, the answer is yup. I have loved PC’s since I first saw one in 1989 or 90. But I am NOT a geek :). Just fascinated by em and have a knack at learning things quickly.

Ok back to the easy things to do. Many people deal with PC security at work, the annoying password changes, all the dang logins you know the stuff that makes a Monday a fun day ;)

But those same people no matter how much PC security is beat in at work, never practice this at home. I have friends who actually work in the PC industry yet still fall short on their home machines.

What am I talking about? That simple act of logging in using a password. If you go to your XP pc and just click on your username to get into your desktop you have zero security for your login.

This means that anyone can have access. This includes a rogue PC that winds up on your wireless home network or even worse a virus you unwittingly activate. But when you have to type in a password to login to your PC then it is much more secure (it can get better but this is an easy start).

That simple change in your home PC habits can make a world of difference and here’s why.

I mentioned a rogue PC on your home wireless network gainig access to everything under your login (my documents, the desktop, my pictures all you can see they can see). This is surprisingly easy to have happen and in fact many times I am the rogue PC.

If I am out and about and need access to the net real fast and quick drive about any neighborhood street will yield open networks all over the place. One may be yours! I then jump on hit the net and do what I need to do then drop off and away I go. The owner never knows.

Now I am not trying to hurt anything but I easily could. With no password set I could browse through your things (pc of course but still your private stuff) I could place a virus file on your PC and then make a change in your registry to run it or even place it in your startup menu. This virus could contain a key logger which records every keystroke and sends it back to me. I then run another program to look for logins.

Now I have all your login names and passwords to anything you login to from your home PC. That easy! Put a password on your login and now I have to hack your PC and work too hard to make it worth it when your neighbor’s PC is wide open. So I move to him.

It happens all of the time! Nothing is fool proof but the more roadblocks you can place in front of a crook the better off you are..makes you a bad target. Ok so now you have the why you need to set your password down lets see how we can stop people from “jumpin on” your wireless network.

This is another easy fix. You simply need to turn off your SSID broadcasting. Now don’t freak it sounds worse than it is. All this means is we set your wireless router to no longer say “hey I’m here” to the world. When you pull up a list from then on your network will no longer show in the detected networks box, which is a good thing.

It won’t require any changes on your PC or anything since it already “knows” about your network since you are hooked to it now. But any new connections you will have to manually type it in cause your PC won’t “see it”. Another plus is the network name is case sensitive so since they can’t see it they would have to already know it to find it.

Ok now you may be saying HOW do I set my PC to ask for a password? Easy I went and got you instructions to follow just head here http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/setup/winxp/accounts.mspx#2.

Now how do you turn off SSID broadcasting follow these instructions and you’ll see a spot where they talk about setting a unique name (the case sensitive network name I mentioned earlier) but in that screenshot you’ll see the radial button to turn OFF broadcasting. http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/networking/setup/wireless.mspx

For those who are brave enough (it is a good idea if you can do it) follow those same instructions and at the bottom you’ll see where they have you turn on security and set a “password” or key. This also stops people from getting on your network you just have to be sure to remember it in case you ever need to add a new device although you can reset it easy using the same instructions. This is a more advance but highly recommended precaution.

I hope I didn’t geek out too much it is hard to talk about this stuff without geeking out some at least :>) The whole point is that a couple little things like this can help protect you from identity theft, privacy invasion and just plain pain in the arse. All this password stuff is annoying but much less than the alternatives for sure!