Computer trespassing – Your computer is your home
Computer trespassing is a phenomenon much more common than most people would like to think.
The use of the term “trespassing” might seem improper in this context but, your computer is your virtual “home”. Much like your physical addresses, your computer is where you lead increasing portions of your life today, whether you like it or not.
Be it paying bills, ordering food, shopping, reading the news, playing games or catching up with friends and family on social networks and through email, the way you use your personal computer is affected and shaped by your personality, identity and specific needs.
This is why the term “computer trespassing” is the official name for any computer crime in several states in the U.S.
Your computer says a lot about you
It might seem funny to say this, but computers, albeit being machines, are adaptable. They are built and designed to adapt to their user so they become a communication hub or even a virtual personal assistant.
In order for your computer to work fast and efficiently, the machine and common software used by most people (browsers for example), are constantly caching and keeping information such as browsing history, passwords, personal data filled in forms etc.
So you see, anyone who gains access to your personal computer can learn a lot about you. From the obvious identity details stored on your computer, through your cultural preferences (which music you like to listen to, the movies you’re interested in, what pictures you like to take, share or look for…) to your family and social networks (which people you’re most in contact with and how), a complete profile of who you are and how you lead your life can be created upon accessing your personal computer.
Your computer is a back door to your actual home
Home invasion, to most of us, means the physical act of breaking into a house in order to steal something. But there is another form of home invasion we tend to ignore. With the spreading of social networks that opened up the world to everyone and made borders quite redundant and increasing use of laptops, most people today have at least one computer in their home with a webcam built in or attached to it. If this is a laptop, then it is also likely to be moved around in the house, unlike a desktop which is mostly kept in one room, usually the study. In many cases each of the family members has a computer of their own and these computers are all connected to one home network.
Most people know about online predators and secure their network and make sure each of their computers is installed with an antivirus software and firewall, but if there is anything we can learn from the influx of news about cyber crime, it’s that these are no longer enough.
Your computer and network can still be broken into and if someone activates your webcam from afar, they can spy on you in the privacy of your home. That is a home invasion of the worst kind. Most people never realize they’re being watched and spied on. Now, think about this means if you have more than one computer and they’re spread all over the house…
What to do against computer trespassing
There are a number of actions that you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones from computer trespassing.
Much like in your physical home, sometimes a lock, sophisticated as it may be, is not enough. You may want to close the windows or lower the blinds at night or when you’re not at home so no one can look in. You may also want to use the services of a security company that can monitor the house and send you an alert whenever something is wrong…
When it comes to your computer these actions translate to the following:
1. If you have a laptop – close the lid whenever you’re not using it. This way even if someone gains access to it and activates your webcam they won’t see anything.
2. If you have a desktop and a separate webcam, turn so it faces a wall when you’re not using it.
3. Always make sure your system is up to date. Make sure you install windows updates whenever your computer alerts you of such.
4. Make sure you have an anti-virus software installed and that it is up to date.
5. Don’t click on links in emails from unknown sources.
6. Do not click links on pop up windows appearing while you browse the web.
7. Use an alert system that monitors your computer for changes and alerts you of such.