by March 1, 2001 0 comments

Broadband or no broadband, today every computer faces the risk of being
hacked, whether it’s a home PC or a company portal. With broadband, however,
home PCs have become more vulnerable to attack, mainly because broadband gives a
permanent connection to the Internet. Corporate customers may not feel as
threatened, as for them a broadband connection is just another Internet
connectivity option like leased lines or ISDN, and they can use similar measures
for security. For home users, however, it’s a new kind of experience. So, let’s
look at some causes of concern, threats, and precautions that you can take for
broadband security for your home PC. Since broadband is fairly new, we’ve
focused only on basic issues.

Causes of concern

In regular dial-up, you connect to the Internet for short durations and then
disconnect. Every time you connect, you’re likely to get a different IP
address. In broadband, since the connection is always on, you’re likely to
stay with one IP address for long periods of time, giving a hacker ample time to
find a way of getting into your machine. So unfortunately, the biggest advantage
offered by broadband also happens to be its biggest security risk.

The other cause of concern–the high speed connection offered by broadband–is
not so big yet, at least in India. In countries where broadband is in full
swing, users have a fast connection to the Internet, but so do hackers to users’
machines. Since broadband is still in its nascent stage in India, bandwidth
available to individual users (and hackers) isn’t very high.

Threats

All forms of attack prevalent over a dial-up connection still apply to a
broadband connection, only now they have a full-time window into your machine.
These include viruses, Trojans, e-mail attachments, and ActiveX scripts.

Precautions

So what should you do to keep your machine safe? The first thing is to have
all the necessary utilities installed on your system, like an anti-virus pack
with the latest updates, and a personal firewall program. Several personal
firewall software are available that keep a watch on your system for any
unwanted activity. One free personal firewall is ZoneAlarm, which is about 1.5
MB in size and can be downloaded from www.zonealarm.com.

The next point of attack is the files and folders in your system. This is
possible if you’ve enabled file and print sharing on your PC. If you have a
single system, ensure that these options are disabled.

Some broadband service providers assign a single external IP address to a
residential colony, and distribute internal IP addresses to all the computers in
it. This way, all computers in the colony are safe from external attacks.
However, they may not be safe from each other because all computers in the
colony would actually be on the same network. So you’ll be able to see your
neighbors’ computers and they’ll be able to see yours. Taking the
precautions mentioned above might be a good idea in this case as well.

Anil Chopra

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