The plethora of malicious attackers on the Internet today is astounding and consumers should be wary. Viruses, Trojan horses, worms, spyware, hackers taking control of your PC and a host of other problems are online dangers that individual users and businesses need to protect themselves against. In the days of dial-up modems, the threats existed in lesser form because a dial-up connection is not always on. With broadband technology, though, the connection never closes unless you turn it off, so all broadband services including Internet browsing, telephony, chat and any others have security problems.
Broadband Telephone Services
Internet telephony — also called VoIP (voice over Internet protocol), IP telephony, Internet telephone services, VoBB (voice over broadband) and others — is similar to having a regular telephone call except the signal transmits over the Internet instead of a standard telephone switching service. Therefore, any security issues your PC has will affect your Internet telephone call. Hackers and malicious software can get into your PC through weaknesses or vulnerabilities in the broadband telephony service just like they can if you download infected files or get infected by an email viruses or attacked when Web browsing.
An Internet firewall is similar to a firewall in a home or business: it protects the space from fire (or, in the case of computers, viruses and other infections). The firewall blocks potential attacks from getting into your PC from your online video chat with your grandmother. Operating systems like Windows, Linux and Mac OS X have built in firewalls that are automatically turned on when the system starts. To make sure the firewall is set up correctly for your needs, read the instructions or help files that come with your PC. Remember that firewalls do not protect against every attack; they provide an outside-to-inside (the “outside” being the Internet and the “inside” being your PC) blocking point where any programs attempting to log in to your computer or install something on it can be blocked. Hackers are clever, though, and have written programs that can go around a firewall.
The second line of defense along with your operating system firewall is anti-virus software. There are many free anti-virus programs on the market, but they do not offer the total protection that a purchased copy does. Anti-virus software is necessary to keep your Internet telephone services secure. Make sure before buying an anti-virus program that it has broadband telephone service security features such as dynamic scanning, which constantly scans your connection. You don’t want only static scanning because a live telephone call has a continuous signal and therefore needs ceaseless monitoring.
Follow certain daily precautions to keep your broadband telephone and the rest of your PC secure: turn on automatic updates for your operating system (they are usually turned on as a default); always perform your anti-virus updates or let the program update automatically; do not open email, chat or other attachments that you are not 100 percent sure about the source of (have your anti-virus program scan them before opening); do not give out any of your passwords; do not accept calls over your broadband telephone service from people you do not know; let your anti-virus program do weekly full scans of your PC and allow it to quarantine or fix any issues it finds; and back up all your data on an external backup source such as an external hard disk, DVD or online cloud system.