Firewalls not just for broadband

According to Symantec, PC users are still holding the false belief that a firewall is required to protect their systems only when they are connected to broadband Internet.

"Dial-up is just as vulnerable," said John Donovan, managing director Symantec Australia. While an always-on broadband connection "amplifies the need" for a firewall connected to the PC, Donovan said dial-up users are still opening a connection to the Net when they log on, which makes them targets by hackers.

Highlighting the need for such security was a recently conducted survey by Symantec, which was held in conjunction with the Sydney PC Users Group. As part of the survey 30 users, mainly on dial-up connections, were given a copy of Norton Internet Security to install on their PCs. They were then asked to use their PCs as they normally would, but with log files running in the background to record what security breeches occur during the one month test period.

At the end of the trial period the participants recorded 1,199 attempted intrusions. One person received 166 attacks in 14 days. Further, half of the participants suffered an attempted attack by over 237 Trojan horses that tried to download malicious software to unsuspecting machines.

This research by Symantec coincides with the latest release of its Norton 2002 suite of security products this week. This includes its Personal Firewall which Symantec sells for around $85. However, PC World HelpScreen readers requiring a firewall have expressed satisfaction with the Zone Alarm firewall which has been out for some time now, and made more attractive by its free price tag.

Regardless of the products at hand, Donovan said the real issue at the moment is alerting people - especially in the home market - at the security threats at hand. "People have to be aware," he said. "We have to educate the market".

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