ROCK HILL, SC (WBTV) - A Rock Hill family received a mysterious message after several months of what they believe was a hacker gaining access to their home computer.
The McKinney family noticed something was awry last August. Every time they logged into their computer in the morning, applications were open. Applications that had not been open when they shut down the computer the night before.
Kaitlyn McKinney though it might be someone trying to piggyback off their software.
"They pretty much just didn't want to pay the extra money and use our stuff," McKinney said.
The family was using the generic Wi-Fi name and password that was issued to them on their router. So to strengthen security breaches, they changed the name and password to something more personal.
They say it seemed to work for a few months, but recently they logged onto their computer and applications were open again.
"Like Microsoft Word, Suite, Excel and stuff," McKinney said.
As her mother was closing out of the applications, she noticed an anonymous message pop up on the screen which read: "You thought you could keep me out by changing the names."
The family does not think any personal information was compromised because there has been no evidence to suggest that so far. However, cyber security experts say it is fairly easy and common for hackers to gain if they are accessing your computer remotely.
"When people unknowingly click on links that they don't mean to, or shouldn't then bad things happen. And it happens too regularly," Executive Vice President of Client Services of Fortalice Solutions Mike Holland said.
Holland says often times a hacker will get access by forcing the user to click or open a link they should not. He says they may even disguise it as being from someone you know.
For example, they could use an email address that is just slightly different than someone you know, to fool you into thinking it is coming from a secure source. But once you click on the email, it could put your computer and information at risk.
Holland advises you to be overly cautious.
If you get an email from someone you know but were not expecting to hear from, he says to use an old school solution.
"Pick up the phone and call them. It's just an old school way of 'Hey did you send this to me?'" Holland said. "If yes, fine then click on it."
He also advises you to use difficult and different passwords for every online account you have. If it is too hard for you to remember multiple passwords, you can use password management websites for a few dollars a month, such as Last Pass.
The service will store encrypted passwords in private accounts for you.