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Chapter 11. Securing Your Standalone PC:... > DSL Versus Cable Versus Dial-Up

DSL Versus Cable Versus Dial-Up

In many cases, you really won't have a choice between purchasing DSL or cable access. You are probably limited to one or the other type of connection for now because coverage isn't complete across the U.S. for both cable and DSL access, although each month sees more access spreading across the country. Dial-up connections are available everywhere, but we should be moving to broadband connections. The speed of broadband connection is the main reason most consumers make the switch to DSL, cable, or wireless. Some points used for comparison are as follows:

  • Security— Both static and dynamic IP addresses are vulnerable to attack. DSL and cable services can assign either a static or a dynamic IP address to you. Dial-up access provides dynamic IP addresses. We will discuss security additions you can make to the operating system security measures covered in Chapter 10 as well as antivirus software you can use. Several DSL providers, one of which is Verizon, provide blocking of some traffic to your IP address. By blocking some ports, they are providing some security to you.

    Cable access does lose out to DSL and dial-up when it comes to snooping on your neighbors or your neighbors snooping on your traffic. Because you are in a LAN, a unique security issue with cable is that the line is shared with others in your area, which makes it easy for a neighbor to snoop around your computer.

    All three types of connectivity are subject to denial-of-service attacks. A remote attacker can easily send traffic to your connection and slow it down or knock you off the network if you do not have good firewalls in place.

  • Cost— The relative costs of DSL and cable services are comparable. Both have varying monthly fee, setup fees, and cost of owning or renting the devices. DSL does provide a good inexpensive solution (only a couple hundred dollars a month) for small businesses that cannot afford a T1 connection but need an always-on connection. Dial-up is inexpensive compared to the other two services. Note, however, that some dial-up plans have limited hours if you choose the cheapest package.

  • Availability— Cable access is spreading faster than DSL access. Some of the major DSL providers have gone out of business or are in financial trouble. But with the regional telephone providers such as Verizon and SBC providing DSL access, both are viable options in just about all large markets. Many small town or out-of-the-way residences will not have available to them either cable or DSL service. Dial-up access is everywhere.

  • Network reliability— Being able to get online is important. Nothing can be more annoying than a busy signal. As some of you AOL members might know, getting online can be a problem with some dial-up services. With DSL and cable, it's rather rare that you will have a network outage. Many dial-up providers can have busy signals at peak usage hours, whereas both DSL and cable modem will almost always give you access.

  • Support— If you have ever dealt with your cable company or phone company, you will probably have a few choice words to say about their support services. Fortunately, the Internet parts of their business are somewhat better. No reliable statistics are available on the service levels, but from experience with dealing with both types of providers, the support is average. Average service is better than what you normally get from cable and telephone companies, however. Cable and phone companies usually provide 24/7 technical support with their own support number. The only challenge you will face with support is having the company go out of business. Again, this is more of a problem with DSL providers. Several failed DSL providers include Northpoint, Flashcom, Zyan, and Jato Communications. Support for dial-up connectivity is usually 24/7 as well. Because it is simple to set up, troubleshooting a problem is simple in most cases.



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