Facts About Port Scanning
Each individual computer runs on multiple ports. For instance, when a person opens his or her email, the computer’s server will open a port through which new mail will be downloaded through a connection to the email server. Certain ports on an individual’s personal computer are open continually, making them a target for any potential hacker who is searching for individuals to victimize. This can lead to one’s sensitive and personal information falling into the hands of those who intend on using it for criminal activity. Unfortunately, criminals and computer hackers are always looking for new victims to exploit, and port scanning is one of the ways through which this can be accomplished.
Port Scanning is the name for the technique used to identify open ports and services available on a network host. It is sometimes utilized by security technicians to audit computers for vulnerabilities, however, it is also used by hackers to target victims. It can be used to send requests to connect to the targeted computers, and then keep track of the ports which appear to be opened, or those that respond to the request.
When a criminal targets a house for a burglary, typically the first thing he or she checks is if there is an open window or door through which access to the home can be gained. A Port scan is similar, only the windows and doors are the ports of the individual’s personal computer. While a hacker may not decide to “break in” at that moment, he or she will have determined if easy access is available. Many people feel this activity should be illegal, which it is not, however, due to the fact that the potential attacker is merely checking to see if a possible connection could be made, in most areas, it is not considered a crime. However, if repetitive port scans are made, a denial of service can be created.
Hackers typically utilize port scanning because it is an easy way in which they can quickly discover services they can break into. In some cases, hackers can even open the ports themselves in order to access the targeted computer. Hackers also use port scanners to conduct tests for open ports on Personal Computers that are connected to the web.
Port sweeping is regarded by certain systems experts to be different from port scanning. They point out that port scanning is executed through the searching of a single host for open ports. However, they state that port sweeping is executed through the searching of multiple hosts in order to target just one specific open port. While Port scanning and sweeping have legitimate uses with regard to network management, unfortunately, they are used almost as frequently for the purpose of criminal activity.
A Serious Threat
Any time there are open ports on one’s personal computer, there is potential for the loss of data, the occurrence of a virus, and at times, even complete system compromise. It is essential for one to protect his or her virtual files, as new security risks concerning personal computers are discovered every day. Computer protection should be the number one priority for those who use personal computers. Port scanning is considered a serious threat to one’s PC, as it can occur without producing any outward signs to the owner that anything dangerous is taking place.
Protection from port scanning is often achieved through the use of a firewall. A firewall monitors incoming and outgoing connections through one’s personal computer. One technique used by firewall technology is the opening of all the ports at one time. This action stops port scans from returning any ports. This has worked in many situations in the past, however, most experts agree it is best to have all open ports investigated individually. Another approach is to filter all port scans going to one’s computer. An individual can also choose to port scan his or her own system, which enables one to see the personal computer through the eyes of a hacker.
Firewalls are the best protection one can invest in with regard to port scanning. Firewalls deny outside access to an individual’s personal computer. With this type of protection, a personal computer is essentially hidden from unwelcome visitors and is also protected from a variety of other hacking techniques. With firewall software, an individual is assured that his or her sensitive and personal information remains protected.
In today’s age of cyber crimes, identity theft, and the myriad of other criminal activities which can be executed through electronic technology, one should never assume that he or she can be too careful. Most people who have become the victim of cyber theft, or other similar crimes, state they wish they would have paid closer attention to the tools available through which their personal computers could have been made safer, and less vulnerable to attack.