Yes, here is yet another of my protect-yourself-or-risk-getting-hacked admonishments. Forgive me. I don’t this to alarm anyone; it’s simply a matter of fact that unprotected PCs connected to the Internet – with the possible exception of those still using dial-up – WILL be compromised. No maybes.
To prove it, Avantgarde, a San Francisco tech marketing and design firm, contracted hacker-turned-security-consultant Kevin Mitnick and Ryan Russell, security consultant and author of Hack Proofing Your Network, to perform an experiment. They set up six “honeypot” computers on the Internet using broadband DSL connections and then monitored them for two weeks. The results are shocking: One Windows XP SP1 machine was successfully hacked in less than four minutes; over a two week period, they logged 305,922 break-in attempts. The XP SP1 machine sustained 139,024 break-in attempts averaging 341 attacks per HOUR.
Contrast these statistics with those of another XP machine running the ZoneAlarm firewall: 848 break-in attempts averaging slightly over 2 per hour. The XP SP2 machine did not fare quite as well, but was still acceptable: 1,386 break-in attempts, averaging less than 4 per hour. Conclusion: Firewalls work. If hackers can’t see you, they can’t attack you.
Bottom line: Apply my Seven Steps to System Security