I had an enlightening and eye-opening experience the other day I thought I’d share with you. It was one of those light-bulb moments, you know, where something suddenly becomes clear.

I was sitting in a hospital waiting room checking email on my iPhone and talking to another guy who happened to be a police officer. As I was talking to him, I was looking through my server emails at the most recent hack attempts.

As a little background, I have a firewall for my server that sends me an email every time it detects someone attempting to hack into a website on my server. The email logs what the hacker is trying to do, their IP address, the country of the IP address, and that type of thing. I get a lot of these emails every hour. Close to half of these hack attempts originate from China.

Now, its not that I run big e-commerce shops on my server that house credit card data or have any websites that store highly sensitive and valuable information that would make my server a big target. What I host are mostly typical business and non-profit websites trying to promote their services and get their messages out.

Well, back to the story. As I was talking to this police officer, I told him how many times I’d been notified of a hack attempt in the last couple of hours. He was shocked at the frequency. So, I started explaining that it is so prevalent that you can’t be online for more than a few minutes before someone tries to hack your computer or server. Hackers run programs that scan the Internet to find websites and computers with security holes. More often than not, they aren’t targeting a specific person or company, but want to control the website so they can use it to go after the bigger fish. They would rather use someone else’s computer or website to do their dirty work, so it can’t easily be traced back to them. Plus, if you control a few thousand websites, you can do a lot of damage.

Well, my light bulb went on. Here I am talking to a police officer. This guy isn’t just a police officer, he is also on the SWAT team and a former Marine, in other words, he is someone who is very security conscious and knows about the “bad guys” out in the physical world. I realized that if someone like him had no idea of the extent to which the bad guys operate in the virtual world, why would the typical business owner or Marketing Director know anything about it!

It is so very important for all website owners to understand how critical it is to keep their website up-to-date with the latest security patches.