Broadband 'increases security risk fivefold'

While DSL gives businesses a performance boost, it also opens up a nasty can of worms, viruses and hackers - something many firms are still ignorant of

Analysts have calculated that a business running a broadband Internet connection is five times more vulnerable to a security breach than one that uses dial-up.

In a report issued this week, The Yankee Group warned that many firms are upgrading to broadband without understanding that this exposes them a much greater security risk. The research company has calculated that security breaches will cost UK firms almost £2bn this year, and it believes that a significant proportion of that cost will be due to broadband.

"For those using DSL, the risk of being among those affected is much higher than among dial-up users. We estimate that DSL users are at five times greater risk of being affected by a security attack," Yankee claimed. "'Always On', in other words, means 'Always Vulnerable'," the research group added.

DSL is a much greater security risk because it allows a user to be constantly connected to the Web. While this is ideal for applications such as email and instant messenger, the downside is that it means more exposure to malicious hackers.

By making it easier to email and surf the Internet, broadband also increases the chances of virus attack -- either sent as an email attachment or secretly embedded in a Web page.

These dangers have been known about and reported for some time, but many companies are still reluctant to take IT security seriously.

Businesses are advised to implement a wide range of security products in an attempt to get the benefits of broadband without suffering expensive consequences.

UK ISP Star Internet, which commissioned the report, says it is vital for firms to install a firewall to manage the flow of data in and out of their network, an antivirus product that should ideally monitor emails and Web traffic, and intrusion detection software to monitor for potential threats from outside the organisation.


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