While leaving your back door open while you are working from home may be something you do without giving it a second thought, having unnecessary ports open on your computer is a security risk that is sometimes underestimated. That’s because an open port can be subject to brute force attacks.
What are brute force attacks?
A brute force attack is where an attacker tries every way he can think of to get in. Including throwing the kitchen sink at it. In cases where the method they are trying is to get logged in to your system, they will try endless combinations of usernames and passwords until a combination works.
Brute force attacks are usually automated, so it doesn’t cost the attacker a lot of time or energy. Certainly not as much as individually trying to figure out how to access a remote system. Based on a port number or another system specific property, the attacker picks the target and the method and then sets his brute force application in motion. He can then move on to the next target and will get notified when one of the systems has swallowed the hook.