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Watch out for cyber-criminals

Undated_Between your e-mails, your personal documents, and your internet activity, cyber-criminals can watch it all.  The methods are becoming more and more sophisticated and harder to track.  Whether it's signing onto your wireless network to steal your identity or creating authentic-looking websites to latch onto your personal information, the hackers in cyberspace can ruin your credit and name in a matter of seconds.

The National Cyber-Safety Alliance says "bots" are the internet's fastest growing cyber crime and most of us have no idea of the damage they can do.  "(They)collect all your information and send back to a computer or host computer so they can steal your identity," said web technician Todd Stoner. 

That malicious software is often invisible to users, but there are some clues. "Computers starting to run a little slow just out of nowhere," Stoner said.  "You're redirected to websites you never went to before.  Just little signs of odd, the starting of those little signs could be a big problem starting."

It's a problem you may not know about for months. During that time, lots can happen--all bad--such as hackers forwarding your bank statements to another address.   So what can you do?

"Normally if a person has one virus program and what we call an 'ad aware' program, those two combined usually do a decent job of keeping the machine clean," said Joseph Diaz, who owns a computer shop in Lawton.  "Then using a little logic, not to open up a things you shouldn't be will also help you."

Also simple things can be done, such as changing your password.

"If you don't see any weird activity, it's no big deal just change your password once a month," Stoner said. "That way you can sit there and get used to memorizing a new password and if someone is getting close to cracking your password, they won't be able to, because you changed it."

It may sound like common sense, but do not keep a list anywhere in your computer with all your passwords.

The experts also talked about the dangers of wireless internet. They agree it's a great thing to have at home...but only when you absolutely can't plug in.   That's because if your router isn't locked down, a hacker could use something as simple as an iPod or iPhone to virtually see inside your home.

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