Don't broadcast info about Windows servers to hackers

Tuesday, 21 January 2003, 12:26 PM EST

Throughout the Internet, it's easy to find a plethora of beginner's guides to hacking Windows. And the first lesson in almost all of those guides is to identify the Windows service packs that are installed on the systems you want to attack. Obtaining information about a server's operating system is the first goal of both rookie and veteran hackers. Once armed with your system information, they're ready to seek out the endless number of hacking sites to discover the exploits that exist on your servers. Your job is to make the process of acquiring Windows system information a challenge for them.

So how does a would-be hacker get information about your server? The answer is easy. Windows servers are made to announce themselves to whoever needs their services. For instance, a Telnet command to port 80 of a Windows Web server will quickly reveal OS and service pack. Then, for example, an attacker might notice that you're running a Windows 2000 server with IIS 5.0 and no service pack. This information can help the hacker discover holes in your system.

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