DSL presents entirely new security risks because your computer is always
online, and you now have a static IP address. Although the risk is not great,
even the simplest hackers can crash your computer if you're not prepared. If
you're concerned about security, your best protection is a firewall or router. A
firewall can either be a piece of software that runs on your computer or an
actual box of hardware that sits on your network between your DSL modem and your
A software firewall is the easiest and cheapest way to protect yourself. It
filters every bit of network traffic that goes onto your computer. The
disadvantages are that it only protects your computer, so if you have an office
network with 20 computers, you'll have to install the software on all of them.
It will also run only on familiar platforms such as Windows and Macintosh. If
you are running Linux, BeOS, or another operating system, the software won't
work for you. Some operating systems have firewalling built into the OS itself,
but you'll have to research and configure that yourself.
A hardware firewall is a bit more expensive, but it has the advantage of
protecting your entire network. If you have a lot of computers and network
printers, a hardware firewall may be easier and more cost-effective than
multiple licenses of a software firewall. A good hardware firewall manufacturer
is Sonic. A better solution, if you have
one of our Premium services, is to use a Cisco router instead of your DSL modem.
Cisco routers have built in firewall features, so they can serve as both your
DSL modem and your firewall.
Whether you decide to get a firewall or not, you should definitely upgrade
your operating system to the latest version, with the right patches. If you're
running Windows XP, you should upgrade to Service Pack 2.
The newest risk in the Internet Security world is the threat of exposing your
network via a wireless hub or router. We highly suggest that you encrypt
your wireless network with the use of WEP or other encryption methods.
The risk is probably minimal that you'll be attacked. The people who are
capable of doing a lot of damage usually go after high profile sites. If you are
attacked, the latest patches to your operating system should be enough to
protect you. However, if you do important work on your computer or network, a
firewall could be worth the protection. Since there are hundreds of
firewalls out there, we can't support each one, but we can get you pointed in
the right direction.