Hackers: Will broadband open door to personal attack?

The imminent UK broadband revolution could lead to a widespread security crisis and not just among corporates, according to British computer security experts.

In all the celebration that followed Oftel's announcement of plans to actively promote broadband technologies such as ASDL last week, most people seem to have forgotten security. "You are definitely going to see people taking advantage of permanent IP addresses and constantly open connections," says a representative of UK based Tiger Security. "People haven't really thought about that side of things and are going to get a few shocks. It's hard enough to get businesses to get adequate security measures, let alone individuals."

Another source within the security industry says: "This is something we have been looking at and we believe it may be a real problem. If people are constantly connected, they will certainly be easier to target." Both agree that when the broadband switch is turned on, the onus will then fall on individuals to ensure they use adequate security to safeguard personal data.

The concerns are not lost on the Metropolitan Police Computer Crime Unit, "This could certainly lead to an increase in computer crime, says DC Paul Cox. "We are stretched as it is, and this certainly worries us."

But before you rush out to buy a firewall for your laptop, officials at Symantec urge pragmatic thought: "The risks will only be statistically greater. If someone has an uninterrupted connection, then they should obviously increase their security and anti-virus measures. If someone really wants to get into your system then they will. In that case it would probably be a good idea to back-up or ghost your hard drive, and perhaps encrypt all your data. One way that this could be a problem, though, is that it might provide a back door into a user's office network."

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