Can computer hackers view and steal word documents and other written documents in your computer?

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I have an antivirus and everything and I am just wondering if this is possible. If so how can you protect your documents. and how likely is it to happen to an average poor person.

Best Answer:

Lydia: Well, to answer the basic question, "CAN they view and steal documents," YES, of course they can.

How much effort it might be depends entirely on how much effort you've put into prevention, such as anti-virus software and not opening email attachments, no matter how tempting.

As to likelihood, well the good news and bad news is that you are no more likely to be hacked than the next guy, but also, no less likely.

Some hackers are very specific with their targets. There's no money in snatching your letter to Grandma. Others have a more "shotgun" approach. They just want to hack into as many systems as possible, either just for the fun of it, for the pride of showing off to their peers, or so they can hi-jack your computer for other nefarious ends.

Basically, just follow the regular rules for safe-surfing. Keep your anti-virus program running and up-to-date, don't open any email attachments, stay away from all "those" sites (you know which ones I'm talking about!), and you should be as safe as you need to be.

If you're really paranoid about your documents, since you mentioned that, download some free encryption software. PGP is good and I think still has a free version. I use "TrueCrypt". Keep your documents encrypted, and even if they do get stolen, the hacker won't be able to do anything with them. (Be careful too about the Temporary Files that Word opens!)

Other answer:

Lydia:
Possible, yes. However, not probable. No one gives a sh!t about your documents. Why would they risk committing a crime for your grocery list?

Your best bet for protection is to uninstall your Antivirus and buy a copy of Malwarebytes 3.0. It's both an antivirus and the best malware protection on the market. From there, just learn to stay off any site that you don't know, and don't click every link you run across. You should be fine.

George:
Yes it is possible, but an Antivirus on it's own won't be able to prevent a virus like that from infecting you because we're talking about Malware viruses here, more specifically spyware.
So in order to protect yourself from such viruses you'll have to install an Anti-Malware like Malwarefox, no need to uninstall your Antivirus, they work fine together.
The changes to get infected differ from person to person depending on his knowledge on such things and the security that he uses.
For example, if you're someone who has no security whatsoever and always clicks on random pop ups, ads and spam emails then you're pretty much screwed, your chances of getting infected would be more than 90%.
If you're someone who uses both an Antivirus and an Anti-Malware while being careful and can tell which links are viruses and which are not, then you have less than 3-4% chances of getting infected but those of course are extremes, the average user would have about 10-20% chances of infection.
KathleenSmith:
you opened the door between your computer and the hacker’s. Any time your computer is infected with spyware or malware, you may be the victim of a hacker, and most likely the one who allowed him or her access. Hackers write code and create viruses that can be transmitted to your pc simply by you opening the wrong file, or clicking on a pop-up that catches your attention. Once you grant them access to your pc, the possibilities can be endless.
chrisjbsc:
VERY unlikely, unless you have something that the criminals think is important to them.
But, yes, criminals can use different techniques to get your password, and then use the password to log into your PC and then take a copy of your documents. This is what is happening at a Corporate / large company with high level crime.
Murzy:
you can password protect your word docs so even if they are stolen or hijacked, they can't be used or viewed

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