Securing a Cable Modem Against Computer Criminals

Law Office of W.F. ''Casey'' Ebsary Jr

As the use of commercial broadband cable modem’s flourishes, the opportunity for computer criminals or hackers to attack computers attached to these networks similarly has skyrocketed. Unbeknownst to most users, a cable modem provides easy access to an attached computer. Protection of these computers is a three-stage process.

A first line of defense against malicious access is a hardware firewall. Without a hardware firewall, the attached computer is easily accessible. With a hardware firewall such as a Linksys Cable/Broadband router as the first layer of protection a hacker will not be able to see your computer as a first device attached to your cable modem.

The second line of defense is a software firewall. A heuristic firewall such as ZoneAlarm looks for suspicious activity per se in addition to an ever-evolving defined list of threats. ZoneAlarm uses a permission-based system to allow access to and from the Internet to be granted or denied by a user. For example, a number of attacks on Windows operating systems using Outlook as an email client, have exploited easy access to the Outlook contacts database. Once accessed those attackers replicate themselves and redistribute information from the attacked computer to email addresses found on the victim’s computer. Obviously, distribution of confidential client information is not an option for any of us. So not protecting our information is not an option either.

The third and final line of defense is maintenance of current virus protection software. Most top of the line software packages will automatically access the publisher’s website to obtain a current list of threats or virus definitions. This third line of defense will provide protection in the event the other two layers do not intercept the malicious file(s) that can compromise your home or office network.

Remember that your security system is only as strong as the weakest link. So while we obviously will focus on our desktop computers, legitimate remote access to our networks with a laptop from home or from onsite from a courtroom or client’s office, will provide opportunities for hackers to exploit our systems. You must make sure that all devices accessing our networks are equipped to deter hackers. Furthermore all users must be aware of the best practices to prevent illicit access to your firm’s digital resources.

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