| By Robert Vamosi |
Staying safe on the Internet requires the combined forces of a router-based firewall, security software, regular updates, and a secure browser.
In this column, I provide recommendations and tips on how to pick the right router and how to set it up for maximum protection from malicious Web sites.
Your Internet path gives an opening to hackers
Put most simply, a router is the gateway between your PC and the Internet. It may be attached to a cable or DSL modem, or it may have those functions built in. In its most-common form, it’s a small box that distributes your Internet connection to the various PCs on your network using Network Address Translation (NAT).
Most small-business and home routers attach to your networked PCs though Ethernet cable connections (typically four to six ports) on the back, or wirelessly using the 802.11 standard. Wireless is more convenient and flexible than cabling, but it does offer openings for digital attacks and eavesdropping that a hardwired cable doesn’t.
In a recent example of eavesdropping, a Washington Post article describes how Google collected Wi-Fi data — possibly including personal information — from unsecured wireless networks as its Street View mapping vehicles drove through various cities.
But the practice of collecting data about public and private wireless networks goes far beyond Google. According to a March 2 article in the Washington Post, Microsoft, Yahoo, and others routinely collect Wi-Fi information for their location-based Internet services (such as providing, online, the locations of restaurants, gas stations, and so forth).