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Hacking occurs when a person's, or group of people's, use of a computer is unauthorized, specifically when this use is trying to bypass a computer's or network's security measures. In addition to computer hacking crimes themselves, there are consequences the victims will have to deal with as well.
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The sensitive data on computers can be damaged by computer hacking and confidential information can be stolen. The other general consequences include:
- Confidential personal information (such as social security numbers and financial information) being exposed.
- Sensitive information being deleted.
- Sensitive information being manipulated.
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Since user data is often exposed with computer hacking crimes, identity theft is common, and sometimes the primary motive of hacking. Identity theft is best defined as a person impersonating another person through use of their personal information, or illegally obtaining and using another person's identity for personal gain or interest. As technology advances, so do the tools that hackers use. Keylogging software is a good example. This type of software records and tracks every key stroke a person makes, allowing for the theft of account details, personal information and passwords. Identity theft has major consequences, such as the acquisition of major debt, having one's credit trashed, losing money, being denied employment, being denied financial services and more.
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Invasion of Privacy
A primary effect of computer hacking crimes is invasion of privacy. This consequence of computer hacking is best defined as intruding into the personal life of another person, without permission or just cause. Invasion of privacy can also lend itself to identity theft. Hackers may hack into a computer or network, obtain a person's personal information and passwords and impersonate them on the Internet with the purpose of destroying the person and/or spamming others using their identity. Once a person's information has been obtained, the hacker can spoof their email address, user names, forum identities and more.
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Fraud is best defined as deliberate impersonation that causes damage to another person. The most common damage caused is monetary loss. This impersonation must be deliberate and have the intent to cause harm and/or gain something. Hackers can use fraud to their advantage while taking advantage of both identity theft and invasion of privacy. The hacker will obtain someone else's identity and use it to sell things or create a fake charity in order to collect money. The things they are selling are never sent and no charities ever receive money. The hacker walks away with the cash while the person they impersonated is left to prove their innocence and pick up the pieces.
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What are the Signs of Computer Hacking?
If your computer has been hacked, there are signs to look out for. The signs of computer hacking include:
- Unexplained reduction in availability of hard drive space
- Files are unexpectedly modified or they unexpectedly disappear
- Frequent computer crashes
- When not accessing the internet, the router or computer internet data transfer light is blinking
- Files unexpectedly grow in size or appear
- Sudden network or computer performance changes
- Strange dialog boxes or messages appearing on the screen