For only $700, you too can become a hacker. New hacker tools are as easy to use and as well supported as any commercial software package. The Mpack toolkit is a particularly easy-to-use hacker kit being sold on Russian e-crime forums. It is "guaranteed to bypass all anti-virus programs at the time of purchase". Like many commercial software packages, it includes a year's worth of free updates and support for the hacker in the price. Mpack is also disturbingly common. It has been discovered embedded in more than 10,000 web sites so far.
Between the increased availability of these tools and the sheer number of vulnerabilities that they are programmed to automatically exploit, it is vital that you keep your computer's operating system and applications up-to-date and fully patched.
Regularly check for updates and immediately load them. Consider setting them to automatically update. And remember that you have to check for updates for every program you have on the computer, not just the Microsoft updates.
Shut down your computer every night. This limits your vulnerability to automated attacks against your computer. Depending on how your network is set up, it may also trigger your update process, making sure that the latest patches are loaded to your computer when you log on in the morning.
Mpack targets security holes in many common software programs including QuickTime media player, plug-ins for the Firefox web browser and Microsoft Windows. According to researchers at one anti-virus company, this toolkit uses simple yet very sophisticated web-based interfaces and allows the hacker to take control of the victimized computer to either steal information, install keyloggers or use your computer as a "zombie" to attack someone else. You can read this technical report for more about Mpack.