According to a recent study at the University of Marlyand, hackers attack computers every 39 seconds. At the 37th Annual IEEE/IFIP International Conference on Dependable Systems and Networks, the research team confirmed the already known fact that passwords are easily bypassed and experts are right to advise the frequent changing of longer passwords that consist of an amalgamation of uppercase letters, lowercase letters and numbers. Michel Cukier's team set up weak security on four Linux computers connected to the Internet and found that the hackers used a "dictionary script" that runs through lists of common usernames and passwords to break into the computer. After gaining access, hackers usually quickly changed passwords, checked hardware and software configurations, and then downloaded, installed and ran a program.
"Our data provide quantifiable evidence that attacks are happening all the time to computers with Internet connections. The computers in our study were attacked, on average, 2,244 times a day. Most of these attacks employ automated scripts that indiscriminately seek out thousands of computers at a time, looking for vulnerabilities. The scripts return a list of 'most likely prospect' computers to the hacker, who then attempts to access and compromise as many as possible," Cukier said. "Often they set up 'back doors' — undetected entrances into the computer that they control — so they can create 'botnets,' for profit or disreputable purposes," said Cukier.