Is your Internet connection safe? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Is your Internet connection safe?

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A lawsuit has been filed against a national rent to own company after a couple claims their activity was remotely monitored through their webcam without their knowledge.

Crystal and Brian Byrd questions how many other Aaron's customers have also fallen victim. You may be surprised who could access your computer if you don't have the proper security settings.

With so many WiFi hotspots to get online with your laptop or smart phone more people are surfing the web more than ever before, but you have to be careful what information you allow to reach the web.

"Anything that you transmit over it can be followed by someone else. They recommend that you not do banking and purchasing on line on an unsecured network," said Christy Goodwin, Albany Computers Owner.

If you're using an unsecured network, police say you could be leaving the door of your computer open to criminals, to take everything from your identity to your financial information.

"If you use what we call shared files on the computer they can actually get into that system and they could find documents that you have on there. The thing now some people were taking their financial statements, their credit card statements, scanning them into a computer," said Lt. Tom Jackson, Dougherty County Police.

Digging deeper we found out it could be the manufacturer putting your information at risk, by leaving some connections open.

"Most of them are left open by the manufacturer so if you call Dell or Toshiba for technical support they can access your computer and be able to assist you and those are very nice features to have but if a criminal is trying to get in having those doors unlocked can be dangerous," said Goodwin.

Some of those same connections can help police, trying to track down who may be stealing your information using a Media Access Control address, or MAC address.

"If we have someone maybe doing some criminal activity involving a computer that's one of the things we would like to use the MAC address and we can always take that to an Internet provider and have them research for us and try and track it back," said Jackson.

Once someone has your information it's a nightmare to get it back or straightened out, and in some cases it could take years. If you suspect someone is using your computer or network connection, there are way to find out, although it can be complicated.

Experts suggest for that you need to take your computer to a reputable computer store and have them check into it. Police say hackers after your information will often install some kind of mal ware on your system, that can even render it useless to you.

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