Does Broadband Make You Less Secure?

By Deane Barker on January 23, 2006

Is Obsolescence Good Computer Security?: Here’s an interesting conversation over at Slashdot.

I was recently considering a switch from dial-up to something faster (either cable or DSL) but my friend recommended against it since he said I was more secure staying with Dial-Up. His argument was that my connection’s slowness and ‘not always on’ connection gave me better security since I was less of a target for many security threats.

In my experience, this is absolutely true. I had a user who was on dialup until just a few months ago. I had gone to their house a couple of times to install software, and their machine was pristine. They switched to a cable modem, and their machine got crufted up inside of two weeks.

Switching to broadband isn’t bad, but it is less secure. You just have to be ready for it — firewalls, antivirus, etc. You’re much more exposed when you’re always on.

Gadgetopia

Comments

  1. Switching to broadband isn’t bad, but it is less secure.

    On Windows perhaps. The always-on connection just magnifies vulnerabilities that are already there.

    Better advice for caesar-auf-nihil would have been to use the switch to broadband as an opportunity to also switch to a less vulnerable OS. (you knew it was coming!)

  2. I care what OS you’re on, being connected 100% of the minutes of the day compared to maybe 5%, will make you less secure. It’s less a question of OS choice and more a question of simple logic.

  3. How about this: Dial-up users are less likely to be fully updated since it takes so flippin’ long to download something, leaving a gaping hole right there.

    It’s not a big deal to turn of your computer or disconnect your net cable when you’re not using the net, is it? Voila, broadband speeds without being always on, if you think that it matters.

    Methinks that AOL commercials are working and that is a bad thing.

  4. How about this: Dial-up users are less likely to be fully updated since it takes so flippin’ long to download something, leaving a gaping hole right there.

    Very true.

    Methinks that AOL commercials are working and that is a bad thing.

    Funny that you mention this. I was thinking the other day that AOL is destined to become nothing but an antivirus and firewall company, much like Symantec and McAfee. They’re given away all their content, which was their only real competitive asset. After dial-up dies, what’s left?

  5. This is SO not true — if you think you’re going to be secure just because you’re on a slow line, you are probably in for a big shock. When I was first running ZoneAlarm, I once got ping’d by a hack attempt FIVE SECONDS after I’d logged in (to a dial-up account). Five seconds. And to counter your friends’ case, I have had to remove virii from dialup user’s machines.

  6. What do you think actually happened to this computer? Do you really think that they just left it on and got hacked? When you say all garbled up, what does that mean?

    Being on high speed isn’t the issue. Once people are on high speed, they go out and start visiting websites left and right and aren’t running any anti-spyware applications or anti-virus software. They click “Yes” or “OK” on every activex control that pops up, and they download email to outlook express with no anti-virus software.

    It isn’t because of high speed, it’s because of user ignorance. Just putting your system on a broadband connection, then blaming every browser hick-up on a “hacker” is absurd.

  7. Okay, okay — I’m willing to admit my stupidity here. I hereby abandon my previous position and submit to the will of the group.

    I am a tool.

  8. Deane, considering how often you do that I’m beginning to wonder if you just shouldn’t have opinions anymore….

    (JUST KIDDING, of course. Most of the time you’re dead on.)

  9. As far as broadband goes – I have NEVER run virus protection. I’m just an “educated” user and I know what is safe and what isn’t. Never had a virus. Not sure what all of these people are doing that lead to viruses on their machines. I run zonealarm and now windows firewall with XP. I don’t have message preview on Outlook – so if I get mail from somebody I don’t know, I delete it.

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