Some information about your computer would be helpful.
For example, please state what operating system your laptop has, if you have an anti-virus, name and brand, a firewall, name and brand, a real-time anti-spyware program, name and brand. Please let me know whether you have a security suite, that protects your private confidential information and data, installed.
Without going into specifics here, it looks as if you may have been using a wireless connection, and left that running overnight. There have been many reports of drive-by hacking from nosy neighbors, and there have been reports of unscrupulous people who drive around the neighborhood in their cars, their computers in the passenger seat, scanning for weak or unencrypted wireless connections to hack into.
If you do not have the basic security protection I spoke of installed, it is not necessary for a person to drive around in a car to find you and your computer. They would come in through your Internet connection.
Working with as little information as I have about your system specifications, and how you actually connect to the Internet, I cannot say what is the best and most prudent course of action.
You should use a second computer to communicate and reply to your thread, one that you know is clean and free of any possible malware or infection.
Be sure to read the notice posted below by CNET, just below the message body you are posting, to ensure you do not post something here you should not. A word of warning: Anything posted in any forum anywhere is posted publicly, for anyone on the Internet to see and view. Once posted, it cannot be removed.
Best practices, would, among other things, include turning off your computer (the one that is now breached) when not in use, as well as any other computer you may use.
This is not exactly the help you are seeking but it is a start.
Fourteen years experience in IT field.
Hello cnet members,
I am posting in the hopes of getting some feedback about how to proceed after having discovered that my laptop has somehow been broken into. Basically - this morning i went to log into my amazon account (the sign in page had still been on the screen as i had left the computer on over night ) and saw that a weird e-mail address i'd never seen before was already in the e-mail address field. This sent up red flags (and i still don't understand why/how this is possible) - but i thought i would try to login - however, after getting error messages i promptly called amazon. They told me they could not find an account associated with the e-mail address that i'd always had attached to my amazon account, and when i told them about the weird e-mail address that appeared on the page and gave them that information - they did indeed say that it was this weird e-mail that i'd never seen before that was now associated with my account (apparently my account info came up just from my calling them as that which is associated with the number i called from).
My level of freaking out ratcheted up upon learning that a $1400 charge had been made to the account this morning - of course, one that i had not authorized. Fortunately it seems as though the hackers had only hacked into my amazon account and had not secured my credit card information (as they had initially had the purchase set to send to my verified address [instead of adding their own from the get-go which would have required supplying full credit card info], and only afterwards sent an e-mail to the vendor requesting that the product be sent to a different/foreign address, supposedly because it was a gift]. I believe everything is now fortunately squared away with amazon and my credit card company -- but i have yet to turn my computer back on, not knowing exactly how my information was stolen and for fear of potentially allowing any further damage to be done. I'm not very computer saavy, so i don't quite understand how this happened and what precautions i need to take now with using this computer (the customer service rep from amazon was at first thoroughly convinced that someone had to have had access to MY computer until i assured him that no one besides me had even been in the household when this fraudulent purchase was made).
Basically, now i would just like to know if/how i can safely use my laptop again (can i even assume that the flashdrives that were plugged into it are safe to use?), if/how i can safely use the wireless internet on it, and what steps i need to take to prevent this from happening again . . . My gracious thanks to anyone who has read through my ramble here - i'm still quite frazzled and wasn't sure what all information to include, so i know i've gone on a bit -- But i would be quite grateful for any advice.