ISC: Unpatched Windows PCs fall to hackers in under 5 minutes

SANS Institute's Internet Storm Center estimates "survival" time of unpatched Windows machine at around 4 minutes.

It takes less than five minutes for hackers to find and compromise an unpatched Windows PC after it's connected to the Internet, a security researcher said today.

The SANS Institute's Internet Storm Center (ISC) currently estimates the "survival" time of an Internet-connected computer running Windows at around four minutes if it's not equipped with the latest Microsoft security patches, said Lorna Hutcheson, a researcher and analyst, in a post to the ISC blog.

"I have been asked many [times] by people if I really believed the survival time graph on the ISC site was truly an accurate representation of how long a new system had once connected," said Hutcheson. "The answer to this is 'yes' for most home users and systems that are Internet facing.

ISC maintains a record of the time between network probes for an average IP address, and assumes that hackers would follow a successful probe -- which would disclose one or more open ports -- with an exploit, most likely a worm.

Another security researcher, however, said unpatched machines can last longer than just a few minutes before falling to attack. The German Honeypot Project, which sets vulnerable systems on the Internet to collect malware, estimates survival time in hours, not minutes.

"Compared to the survival time from the Internet Storm Center which is currently below five minutes, we measure a higher survival time," said Thorsten Holz, a co-founder of the project and current a Ph.D. student at the University of Mannheim, in a post to the Honeypot Project's blog. The project's data estimates the average time between connecting to the Internet and compromise at under 1,000 minutes, or approximately 16 hours.

"[But] the time is still short and you need to patch a system before taking it online," said Holz.

"While the survival time varies quite a bit across methods used, pretty much all agree that placing an unpatched Windows computer directly onto the Internet in the hope that it downloads the patches faster than it gets exploited are odds that you wouldn't bet on in Vegas," added Hutcheson of the ISC.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Latest News Articles

Most Popular Articles

Follow Us

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Resources

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?