Hardware Disconnects

Dear Fred, The discussion of security and firewalls got me to thinking – I saw an ad several years ago for a simple switch for high speed internet users that would allow them by just clicking a switch to completely disconnect.  This would seem to be the ultimate.  I am thinking of switching from dial up to high speed and I don’t like the idea of being connected 24/7 – I would rather only be connected when I am active and completely disconnected the rest of the time.  What are your thoughts on this and is this switch is still available and where?  Thanks—Hugh Muir

Yes indeed, Hugh: Many standalone cable and DSL "modems" have just such a feature: a "suspend" or "standby" button which keeps the modem powered-on but allows no traffic to pass through. It can be handy as a way to drop offline, such as when you see suspicious activity (unexplained heavy up/downloads, etc.): First, cut the connection, then troubleshoot to see what the heck was going on. <g>

Other options include using a firewall to block *all* traffic (see #2 above); or— as I’ve seen done by hardware hackers— cutting one conductor in the network cable and mounting a small in-line switch to make or break the circuit.

But you’re right about the concept: If you block the connection, you’re safe from network-borne problems.

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Fred Langa

About Fred Langa

Fred Langa is senior editor. His LangaList Newsletter merged with Windows Secrets on Nov. 16, 2006. Prior to that, Fred was editor of Byte Magazine (1987 to 1991) and editorial director of CMP Media (1991 to 1996), overseeing Windows Magazine and others.