What is a backdoor?
Like the term implies, a backdoor in the sense of computer security refers to a hidden method of side-stepping active authentication requirements to gain access to a computer or network.
Are backdoors bad?
Yes and no.
Often, a backdoor is actually created to help a network administrator gain access to a computer or network in the event that it’s hijacked by hackers who have forced their way into the system.
Backdoors can also be used for troubleshooting or to help restore passwords for users.
One example of a backdoor is, in fact, a “default password” that might be left unchanged.
In these cases, a backdoor is meant for authorized users.
But backdoors, even if installed intentionally, can leave a system vulnerable.
They could allow criminals to place dangerous malware onto your network, or to gain access to your sensitive information.
In some instances, computer worms might create a backdoor on a victim’s computer so hackers can send out malicious emails from infected computers.
In other cases, hackers use codes – often through open-source programs – which can be placed on a system.
If this occurs, the backdoor may not be detectable by simply viewing the code, but might be noticeable through other means.
Overall, the best backdoors – or worst, depending on how you look at it – are largely undetectable if they do not affect a program’s typical operations.
How do I protect my computer or network?
Keep a firewall in place to help block unauthorized users from gaining access to your data.
If you consider using “open-source” software – one that allows you to use, change and distribute it to anyone, for any reason, without cost – do so with caution.
While many are legitimate programs, others can contain hidden backdoors that allow a hacker to steal your private data or even gain control over your system.
Hackers have learned that altering a software’s code may provide them an undetectable backdoor into someone else’s computer or network.
Use a quality anti-virus software and keep it updated so the software is able to avoid the latest threats that exist.
Also, keep your computer’s operating system and all other programs updated so they, too, can identify possible attacks.
Use your email cautiously
Even if an email appears to be from someone you know, hackers could be disguising themselves while trying to get into your system.
Find an anti-virus tool that will scan your email attachments and other downloads before you open them and exposure your system to potential backdoors or other risks.