Imagine this nightmare scenario...
You check your e-mail program and it reports your username and password as no longer valid. You call your Internet service provider (ISP) to discuss problem and they tell you they turned off your account due to "abuse". "Abuse!" you cry to customer service operator, "What are you talking about?"
"Someone used your computer this past Saturday night in an attempt to hack into a government computer system. They made attempt at 1:20 a.m. from your account," replies rep. "Look in your windows registry for a file called QAZWSX.hsq."
You punch a few keys and sure enough file stares right back at you. "What is it?" you ask, scared to know answer.
"Someone used a Trojan Horse virus to remotely control your computer and cloak identity of hacker. Here's how to get rid of it, just..."
What you just read happened very recently to someone I know quite well. A computer hacker found an open port on his computer when he switched over from a dial-up Internet connection to an "always-on" high-speed connection.
The hacker used a robot scanning Internet for available "ports", openings in a computer that allow data to pass back and forth from a network connection like Internet. Once hacker found an unprotected port on my friend's computer he simply inserted a Trojan Horse virus that rides along with Windows Notepad, a handy utility used by just about everyone who makes web pages.
When my friend activated notepad program he also activated virus. The virus in turn transmitted all of my friend's security information to hacker and allowed him to gain access and control his victim's computer in middle of night.
Count me as last person to sound paranoid, but, as always-on connections through DSL, cable, and T-1 lines proliferate, this story will repeat itself over and over until people learn to protect themselves.