To connect your computer to the Internet is to be in danger. There's no way around itthe moment you get on to the Internet, you are threatened by spyware, viruses, Trojans, and more. And among the worst threats are hackers, who look for ways to break into people's PCs and do damage.
Why is the Internet so open to hackers? A big part of the reason has to do with the origins of the Internet itself. The Internet was not designed to be a massive globe-spanning network connecting hundreds of millions of people doing everything from shopping to conducting financial transactions. Instead, it was built for government and military researchers to be able to easily communicate with each other and share resources.
Because of that, the Internet was designed to be open and to allow people to do things such as allow others to take control of their computers.
It's this very openness that makes hacking so easy. When you connect to the Internet, your computer is wide open. And it needs to be that way because to accomplish anything, such as connecting to a website, it needs to send and receive information freely. This openness can be exploited by hackers, who can use it to break in to your PC.
In addition, the Internet was not designed with security in mind, so it's easy for people to spoof their real email addresses or locations. There's a famous New Yorker cartoon with the punch line, "On the Internet, no one knows you're a dog." That can be updated to, "On the Internet, no one knows you're a hacker."
This problem is made worse by the number of script kiddies online. Script kiddies are people, not uncommonly adolescent boys, who are bent on doing damage to people's PCs but who don't have a great deal of knowledge about the workings of the Internet, networks, or computers. But they are able to download freely available malicious software, and scripts to run that software, and can wreak havoc. Often, they work out their own emotional issues by harming other people's computers.
But all is not bleak when it comes to protecting yourself against hackers. Plenty of software and many techniques can be used to protect yourself. An entire security software industry has sprung up, so you can buy antivirus software, anti-spyware software, and firewalls that will protect you. And in many cases, the software is available for free.
Ultimately, though, just as important as using the right software is learning the proper behaviornot clicking on spam messages, responding to instant messages from people you don't know, and so on.
So while it's true that there is no absolute protection against hackers, there's a great deal that can be done so that you'll most likely be safe the next time you go online.