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Can I get hacked if I don't download anything?

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robo_dev

You asked: "someone I know online... Is it still just as easy for them to hack my computer?"

The answer is, No.

"Hacking your computer" would imply installing some malware or virus/tracking or surveillance software, or somehow setting up some sort of remote connection.

In terms of installing any sort of malware, the same protections apply....not clicking on unknown links or downloading unknown attachments without scanning them, keeping PC patched and using good AV software, etc. etc.

In terms of somebody gaining remote access, normally people have a firewall which does not allow inbound connections. So if, for example, you had remote desktop enabled on your PC, unless the port required for that (port 3389, typically) was open on your firewall/router an outsider cannot connect.

So to recap, for an individual to hack you, they would either have to get some sort of program or malware on your PC, or you would have to have some port or ports open on your firewall. If you are careful with respect to viruses and malware, the former won't happen, and if you have a standard home router/firewall, these are configured with all ports closed by default, so most likely the latter won't happen either.

To clarify one response given above....if you use an email CLIENT such as Outlook Express, Thunderbird, Apple Mail, then the originating IP address of the email will be where it came from (e.g your home IP.

However, if you use webmail (gmail, yahoo, etc), then the originating IP address will be that of the webmail service ( gmail, yahoo), not yours.