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A friend got a new Windows 7 computer. His plan was to connect it to the internet and download all the Windows updates.

I told him a better strategy would be to download the patches from another system and then install them on his new computer before he connects it to the internet. My rationale is that his computer would be more susceptible to attacks until the system is patched.

But I started to wonder if my rationale is valid. Are there known attacks on an unpatched Windows 7 system if it is simply connected to the internet and is just sitting without being used? The system would have no third-party software, and he would not be using any tools like email or a web browser as he is downloading and installing patches.

  • seems to me that an older system would have more of a chance to become infected and possibly intercept updates. if you boot the new one offline and plug it the net just before updating, you should be fine unless very smart and very bad people are very mad at you. gone in 60 seconds? doubtful. – dandavis Dec 8 '16 at 21:53
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It is certainly possible that a fresh install could be infected but remember that it will be connected via a router that won't be allowing inbound connections.

So as long as you only run Windows Update, you will be fine.

  • Assuming it is behind a NAT router, what vulnerabilities could affect a virgin unpatched Win7 system? – RockPaperLizard Dec 8 '16 at 21:59
  • Well it depends what version comes pre-installed. It isn't possible to predict this. But it is likely that it will not include all patches and therefore there will be vulnerabilities. It is fair to say that you would be unwise to connect such a device via an untrusted network. But even then, the dangers really are tiny. Avoid browsing and email and there is virtually no chance of the device being compromised. – Julian Knight Dec 8 '16 at 22:39
  • Dangers from browsing and email come mainly because you've invited something nasty onto the device by reaching out - malvertising, opening a malware file for example. If you only connect to WU, there is virtually no danger at all. – Julian Knight Dec 8 '16 at 22:41
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They can also compromise the computer if they break into the wireless (Presuming you have one) network and detect the computer via Nmap then connect to it via a security exploit and interrupt the updates (But this seems highly unlikely)

If you are paranoid connect the computer Via LAN and turn of the wireless switch of the router (Do not turn off the router BTW some routers don't have it)

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