Track down and report a Hacker?

Dennis Faas's picture

Happy Birthday to me! Today, I turn 30.

Special thanks to those folks who noted my Birthday pre-announcement in the "today in History" section in Yesterday's newsletter.

And now getting on with today's question, Infopackets Reader Roberta W. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I'm having a heck of a time trying to figure out how to report a hacker that has been trying to hack in to my computer. I have 3 firewalls and plenty of antivirus software installed on my computer. I keep getting messages that is 'sniffing' my communication ports, and is attempting to send me Trojans and 'sub seven' backdoors (whatever that is). I traced the IP address of the hacker from my firewall log and it appears that he is from San Francisco. Can you help me? What should I do? "

My response:

I've commented on tracking and reporting a hacker in a number of previous articles over the years (see previous articles: "Can I track down a Hacker?" and "Visually tracing a Hacker").

Let me break it down quickly --

Attempting to prosecute each and every [idiot] that tries to 'hack' your computer -- in my opinion -- is an incredible waste of time, especially if your computer is being attacked by 50 different 'wannabe' hackers each and every day.

Keep in mind that *most* hackers are not targeting your computer specifically (per se). Most hackers are more than likely running a 'port sniffer' program that jumps from computer to computer connected to the Internet, looking for vulnerable communication ports on your computer.

If your computer system is up to date and adequately protected (see below for more info), you really don't need to be concerned about the 50 or so idiots that are trying to gain access to your system each day. However: if you disagree with my sentiments, you are certainly welcome to pursue the hacker if you have some spare time on your hands and are willing to pay the legal fees (again, refer to previous articles: "Can I track down a Hacker?" and "Visually tracing a Hacker" for helpful information on tracing a hacker).

The short answer / easy solution to your problem is, providing that:

  • your operating system is still supported by Microsoft -- that is: you can still download security update using Windows Update / Automatic Updates, and
  • you've downloaded the updates, and
  • your firewall is properly configured and there aren't any communication ports that are haphazardly left open or firewall permissions which are improperly set
  • ... then this should be enough to provide you with adequate anti-hacker protection for your computer.

    RE: " I have 3 firewalls and plenty of antivirus software installed on my computer. "

    By the way, you only need 1 firewall installed on your machine, as having two [or more] firewalls installed on your PC can severely complicate issues (resulting in some programs not functioning properly).

    On a side note: Zone Alarm is probably one of the best free Firewalls on the Internet. Zone Alarm also happens to be one of the firewalls that can use "Visual Zone", a tool used for visually tracing hackers. I have an eBook on PC Security that also includes a downloadable video which explains how to set up Zone Alarm on your PC (you can watch the video on your computer). More info on that here.

    As for antivirus protection: only 1 A/V program is necessary, providing that is a real-time virus scanner and is up-to-date. Refer to the previous Gazette article, "Use more than one Virus Scanner at the same time?" for more information.

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