A lot. You would never leave your car doors wide open on a busy street – would you? Your computer, online, left with no firewall and anti-virus protection is vulnerable to all sorts of attacks and hacks.
USA Today connected six unprotected computers to the Internet via a high speed DSL connection and watched them for two weeks to see what would happen. USA Today writes The machines tested were types popular with home users and small businesses. They included: four Dell desktop PCs running different configurations of the Window XP operating system, an Apple Macintosh and a Microtel Linspire, which uses the Linux operating system.
Each PC was connected to the Internet via a broadband DSL connection and monitored for two weeks in September. Break-in attempts began immediately and continued at a constant and high level: an average of 341 per hour against the Windows XP machine with no firewall or recent security patches, 339 per hour against the Apple Macintosh and 61 per hour against the Windows Small Business Server. Each was sold without an activated firewall.
By contrast, there were fewer than four attacks per hour against the Windows XP updated with a basic firewall and recent patches (Service Pack 2), the Linspire with basic firewall and the Windows XP with ZoneAlarm firewall.
“The firewalls did their job,” says Russell. “If you can’t get to them, you can’t attack them.”
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