Ever since the internet and networking were introduced, the fear of 'being hacked' has been at the forefront of our society. Luckily there are steps that you can take to protect yourself from an unauthorized entry. These steps are much easier than you think, and we will go over a few basic ones that you can take today. The first thing you can do is make sure you are behind a router when you are using the internet. Many people make the mistake of plugging directly into their cable or DSL modem. It would be helpful to purchase a standard four port router even if you are the only internet user in the home. This will make it much more difficult for hackers to find their way into their computer as the router will provide a barrier between you and the outside world. In addition to that you could also try a software firewall. There are a number of different choices, some of which are actually free. For instance, there is a free version of Zone Alarm which will block any connections that you did not approve. It can be annoying sometimes, especially when it questions every action you take, but it will keep you protected. You can also upgrade to the professional version of Zone Alarm to gain access to better features and have more control over your firewall. There are certain pieces of spyware software that will watch your registry. Whenever a change is made to your computer, the registry must be modified, and if you are notified when a change is being made, you can allow the change or even deny it until you know more about the event that is taking place. The so called hackers may also attempt to gain your information through what is known as 'phishing'. This is a term used for those who pretend to be perfectly legitimate individuals, perhaps conducting a spyware scan or even posing as an official from your bank and asking for your information. You might even be shown a list of files in your computer, and a message stating that your system is not secure. Generally the files you are being show are either not your own, or they are in a folder that can be easily accessed from the outside. Think twice before you give anyone any information. These are a few ways that you can keep your computer protected. There are many people who make the mistake of thinking they are untouchable, but the truth is that no one is untouchable. You can be compromised, and once you accept that, you can begin to protect yourself. That being said, listen, learn, and most importantly: watch out.