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Chapter 5. Exploring the Internet > Connecting to the Internet

Connecting to the Internet

Universities and large companies are most likely connected to the Internet via high-speed wiring that transmits data very quickly. Home computer owners usually rely on a modem and the phone lines already in place. In some areas, however, several faster connection options are becoming available and affordable: ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network); DSL (Digital Subscriber Lines), wires that provide a completely digital connection; and cable modems, which use cable television lines. DSL and cable modems, also known as broadband connections, are continually turned on and connected and use a network setup so you don't need to establish a connection using a dial-up modem. Data travels more slowly over phone wires than over digital lines and cable modems. Whether you use a phone line, an ISDN, DSL line, or a cable modem, Windows can help you establish a connection between your computer and the Internet using the New Connection Wizard. First, you need to select an ISP (Internet Service Provider), which is a company that sets up an Internet account for you and provides Internet access. ISPs maintain servers connected directly to the Internet 24 hours a day. You pay a fee, sometimes by the hour, but more often a flat monthly rate. To connect to the Internet, you need to obtain an Internet account and connection information from your ISP or your system administrator.

Protecting your computer from the Internet

When you connect to the Internet, you can access web sites and information on the Internet, but other users on the Internet can also access information on your computer. You can prevent this by activating Internet Connection Firewall (ICF), another security layer of protection. A firewall is a security system that creates a protective barrier between your computer or network and others on the Internet. ICF is software that monitors all communication between your computer and the Internet and prevents unsolicited inbound traffic from the Internet from entering your private computer. ICF discards all unsolicited communication from reaching your computer unless you specifically allow it to come through. If your computer is directly connected to the Internet, you should activate ICF. If you are using Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) on your network to provide Internet access on multiple computers, you should activate ICF on the ICS computer only to avoid creating network communication problems.


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