How can I prevent Internet "screen-jacking"?

Posted By : Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on February 21, 2000

Question

Some months ago Attorney General Janet Napolitano announced an initiative to stop computer crimes. This announcement was the lead story on the front page of the Arizona Republic (I regret that I've lost the date). One of the crimes mentioned was "screen-jacking", taking control of a computer screen at signoff. What is "screen-jacking"? I've not heard of such before and after the Republic article appeared.

Thanks,

Don

Answer

This question was answered on February 21, 2000. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.


In light of the recent news about hackers using unprotected computers that are connected to the Internet as “Zombies” to attack websites such as Yahoo, eBay and Amazon, this is a timely question The basic concept behind “screen-jacking” is to be able to control another computer remotely without the consent or in most cases the knowledge of the owner This is generally accomplished by planting a Trojan Horse program such as Back Orifice in a system, which will allow a “hacker” to have access to your computer whenever you are connected to the Internet These Trojan Horse programs can be hidden in other programs and install themselves in your system when you run them Up-to-date anti-virus programs can generally detect the presence of these Trojan’s when you come in contact with them, but not always (Up-to-date means that you have updated it in the last 30 to 45 days!) The most common method of contracting these Trojans is by opening an attached file that accompanied an e-mail message The rule of thumb on attachments is not to open them even if you trust the sender unless you know precisely what the attached file contains Another possible method of intrusion is if you have a home or office network (2 or more computers connected together) and have an “always on” connection to the Internet such as DSL or a Cable Modem If you have set-up your network to share files,

you can easily be sharing access to those files with the whole world! Always use passwords on shared devices and in today’s digital age, it is very advisable to install a “Firewall” for protection If you have a large corporate network, you should check with your service provider and hardware support companies for your firewall options If you are a home user that has a home network or are connecting to the Internet via one of the “always on” methods, you can install personal firewall products such as Zone Alarm from Zone Labs This free (for individuals and non-profits – 60 day trial to corporate and government users) software firewall program will monitor and block access to your system and let you know when someone is “sniffing” (looking for a way in) your system You can download it at <a href="http://www.zonelabs.com"><font color="#003399">>http://www.zonelabs.com</b></font></a> If you want a real eye opener as to your personal vulnerabilities to the Internet, go to <a href="http://www.grc.com"><font color="#003399">>http://www.grc.com</b></font></a> and click on Sheilds Up This site will probe your current connection and let you know what your exposures may be Try running the probe before and after installing the Zone Alarm program to see how

well you are protected You can also get links to security related issues concerning the Denial of Service attacks for both Windows and MacOS based systems at <a href="https://www.datadoctors.com/dosattack.htm"><font color="#003399">>https://www.datadoctors.com/dosattack.htm</b></font></a> Traveling on the information superhighway is just like traveling on a real highway; you must learn the rules and do everything you can to protect yourself!

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Posted by Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on February 21, 2000

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