Computer expert: Personal info, e-mails may not be as safe as you think

By Mark Bullion

November 14, 2012 Updated Nov 14, 2012 at 8:57 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill -- The Petraeus scandal has raised many questions about just how safe your personal information is on your computer, including your e-mails. You may be surprised at just how easy it can be for someone to get your information.

Jim Wilson owns Computer Medics in Peoria. He knows just how easy it is for someone to get into your computer.

There are some steps you can take to reduce that risk including your password, which should consist of a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols.

"By that, we mean an alphanumeric password, and that it's not related to you at all, don't use password, my dog, or anything like that, something totally unrecognizable that anyone would not associate with it at all," said Wilson.

Wilson says knowing the environment you are in can also play a critical role.

"You want to sit and analyze who has access to your computer to begin with and do you want that data to be private? Do family members have access to your computer? You want to stop and think are you using your laptop in a public environment, a cafe, or restaurant of some kind, wireless security is not secure by any means today," added Wilson.

That's because WIFI hot spots are targets for hackers to get into your computer since they are open networks.

"There's software out there where they can penetrate the firewall and penetrate the security to get access to your machine," said Wilson.

And e-mails are no exception.

"There's software that's called Key Loggers that's out there and what it actually does is mirrors what you're typing so they can put that software in your machine and they can actually go back and put it in their laptop and have access to all your passwords and everything," added Wilson

Wilson says the best way to be online is using an ethernet cord and turning your wireless capabilities off.

"Just be as cautious with your computer as you are with the cash in your wallet," said Wilson.

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