How your Internet Service Provider sets you up for failure

The cable company just installed your Internet service.  Life is good – you can stream video like you always wanted.  That is, until you notice a few days later the computer seems slower and the lights on the little black box connected between the wall and your computer has furiously blinking lights.  Eventually your computer takes forever to start up, and everything comes to a crawl…..

What the heck happened?

Internet Service providers like your cable company and telephone company often install a MODEM at your house for Internet access.  A MODEM is a simple device, it simply provides a path for data to go to and from the Internet.  In order to be on the Internet, your computer has to have an address, not unlike a house.  Here is the catch – instead of someone needing to physically drive by, on the Information Superhighway anyone is able to ‘drive by’ your address.  Not only that, but they walk right up to the front door and jiggle the handle to see if it is locked.  And they try to find an open window. When they find a window open, they climb in, set up their shop, and before you know it they are selling porn out of your living room.

A Gated Community

One way to avoid this is to move your house to a gated community, where access is controlled and your address, while listed somewhere, is not connected to the physical address.  The way we do this in computer terms is to hide your address behind a router.  A router will obtain the Internet address needed for the public side of things, and then secretly route data to your PC in the ‘gated community’.  Most providers do NOT provide a router – they try to solve the problem through software since it is the cheapest option. In addition, the router can make you somewhat invisible, at least from the folks driving by….. they don’t even see the entrance to the ‘gate’.

Is a router the answer?

It is not the end-all solution but it does provide that first layer of defense and makes your PC security manageable.  This will not protect you from clicking on bad emails, downloading questionable software, or other user-related issues that are akin to inviting strangers into your house.

Where do I get a router and can I install it?

Routers can be found at your local electronics store or online.  We purchase most items from newegg.com since they offer great prices. (disclaimer – we are NOT affiliated with NewEgg, we just think they are awesome) Installation is as easy as plugging it in.  One step not covered in the instructions is to turn your MODEM off for about 5 minutes before connecting the router.  DSL connections (from the phone company) may need some additional logon information, so it may be wise to talk to someone you know who has the same service or Google it.

Do yourself and your ‘family tech support’ guy a favor and get some protection. 🙂

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