DSL and Hackers

Wired’s Farhad Manjoo has an article about the potential problems created by always-on broadband connections, Broadband Could be Hackland.

I was surprised after all of the literature they sent me along with the numerous times I called technical support, that no one at Ameritech even raised the possibility that extra security precautions might be in order when using a DSL connection. I was already aware of such problems, but you’d think even a small “buy a firewall program for extra security” note might be in order.

On the other hand, maybe they have the same contempt for their consumers as [email protected]’s Richard Holden does. Holden says the security problems with broadband have been blown out of proportion (which may be somewhat true) and, as Wired paraphrases, “Holden added that only if people are using their computers to store sensitive information will extra security software be necessary.”

What world is this guy living? Everybody I know who owns a computer has sensitive data on it, even the folks who aren’t power users. Several people I know use their computer to prepare their tax returns; others use Quicken and other financial packages to keep track of their money.

As far as I’m concerned my e-mail is very sensitive data in that I wouldn’t want some cracker gaining access to it. I know even casual computer users who use email to communicate relatively sensitive information. Of course firewalls don’t guarantee nobody will get access to your data, but you always want to put as many impediments as feasibly possible in the way of those with malicious intent.

The blaise attitude among broadband providers toward security is very puzzling.

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