I can't tell you why it took me so long to write this BLOG post. This may be the best advice you will ever get when it comes to protecting your computer.
When you ask your Dialup, DSL, or Cable company to provide internet service, you are often given single black box called a "Modem". For the sake of this article let's refer to this box as your "Cable Modem".
Your cable modem is connected to the cable from your provder and your computer is plugged into this modem. This is the most typical installation you will receive.
Once installed, your computer is DIRECTLY connected to the world via this little black box. Your computer assumes what is called an IP address (Unique address given to your computer).
So far it sounds exactly what you asked for right? Let me explain the risk.
If a burglar is looking to rob a gas station they may often visit the gas station beforehand to learn about it. How many people work thee and when. Whether or not they have video cameras. Is there a security system? Is a man or woman behind the counter? Do they have a gun?
This is all information that a prospective burglar may use to increase the success of their dastardly deed. Usiing just a modem to connect to the internet may provide this "view" for potential internet attackers.
Imagine if the same building had no windows. No chance to look inside. No way to obtain ANY information about what goes on inside the building?
First, the burglar wouldn't have much motivation to burglarize this location. And if the burglar assumed there was something of value there -- they could not determine what security challenges they might face. See the difference?
That is what a firewall is designed to do. Now, firewalls come in many forms. Software firewalls that you load onto your computer. Hardware firewalls that you purchase from the store.
Hardware firewalls are a good idea. However many can be cost prohibitive.
Installing a "Router" offers many of the same benefits. A router is a device usually used to allow more than one computer to connect to the internet using ONLY ONE IP address.
A router allows you to connect more than one computer to the internet and isolate your computers at the same time. This is much more secure.
This makes your computer invisible to people that try to figure out what kind of computer you have. If an attacker doesn't know what kind of computer you have -- it makes it more difficult to attack it.
I'm not saying it's impossible -- however a potential attacker would prefer to prey on the "easy targets". Don't be that easy target.
EVERYONE should install a router inbetween their Modem and Computer(s).
First, it offers security. Second you benefit with the option to connect more computers to your network. Even wirelessly.
If you don't have a router or firewall (hardware) -- then you should invest in a router as soon as you can. They run from $30-$100 depending on a few factors. Most people spend around $50.00.
You should still install good antivirus, firewall and anti-spyware software. A router keeps people from peeking at your computer to see what's under the hood -- reducing the risk of an outside attack.
In my opinion everyone should use a router as their first line of defense.
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