Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

It's not at all uncommon for random attacks to reach our computers and try to break in. That's why a firewall is needed.

Hi Leo, I have two Russian IP addresses constantly trying to hack my computer. My question is, I have their IP address, to whom do I report this? It's driving me crazy and freezes my computer every time they do it. Thankfully, Norton catches it.

Only two?

You're in good shape then.

What you're seeing is extremely common, and one of the reasons that folks like me are constantly telling everyone to use a firewall.

Sounds like Norton's doing that for you.

I'll review what's happening, what you can do, and what you should do.

Internet Background Noise

Some term this "Internet Background Radiation" - essentially there's a constant stream of traffic on the internet from various computers, including:

"A common and inexpensive router acts as a firewall to stop these kinds of things cold."
  • computers that are infected with a virus that's attempting to spread

  • hackers, typically driving an army of computers, attempting to gain access to other computers

The way they do this is very simple: they just reach out to every possible IP address and try to exploit known vulnerabilities.

If you're seeing this, it's just your turn to be a target.

It's extremely unlikely that the computers at the other end are trying to hack you specifically; they likely have no idea who you are. They're just running through IP addresses, have found a computer that exists at one of those IP addresses, and are now trying to break in using known vulnerabilities.

Reporting the Russians

A lot of people want to report these intrusion attempts to someone.

The problem? There's no one to report them to.

And even if there were, the fact that you're being attacked and even that the attack is from specific IP addresses in Russia is so common and "old news" that there's little that could or would be done.

For the record, it's not just Russia - these kind of attacks are coming from computers all over the world. Heck, it could just as easily be your neighbor's computer if infected with malware.

What Should You Do?

One thing you said bothers me: that it freezes your computer every time.

It shouldn't.

If it's literally freezing your entire computer so that you have to reboot, then something is wrong - perhaps you are vulnerable to one or more of the attacks. I'd make sure you were properly protected and that all your software is up to date with the latest security patches.

If by "freezing" you mean that Norton simply pops up and tells you of the attack - well, that's probably something you should be able to configure in Norton somewhere. You don't need to be warned of every attack like this as long Norton stops it.

However, I have a much better idea.

Get a router.

A common and inexpensive router acts as a firewall to stop these kinds of things cold. The attack never reaches your computer. Norton, if you choose to leave its firewall enabled, would never interrupt you because the attack would never get past the router.

Even if you have only one computer I recommend getting an inexpensive broadband router, simply to use it as a firewall.

The Russians, or whomever else might come along with this type of attack, simply won't reach your computer at all.

Article C4496 - November 4, 2010 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

November 9, 2010 8:19 AM

I call a router a "hardware firewall" for this reason.

November 9, 2010 10:27 AM

Back when we threw rocks and spears at one another for communication. I was still on dial-up because the apartment did not have a cable company that provided broadband services. Even with telephone I had a firewall. Anyway to get back to what I was getting at about the router. I kinda looked at it as the bait that would go no place (if a hacker was so inclined) because the router would for all intense and purposes like just another computer the internet. To put it bluntly it would be like the hacker gaving sex with a blow up doll.

November 9, 2010 11:03 AM

Great suggestion Leo. The Linksys WRT54G is a 802.11g routerthat is cheap to purchase and is compatible with wireless-g/b adapters.Just remember to change the default Linksys passwords to your own password after setup and use encryption security if you decide to setup a network.

March 4, 2012 9:54 PM

Please remember that most routers use a heavily modified unix OS in them... It is not 100% immune to attack but it good enough in most cases. Just making sure people don't get lulled into using a router like this for decades and think they are perfectly safe...

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