Dial-up fades away as broadband pulls ahead

The take-up of broadband in the UK continues to increase at the expense of dial-up services, according to figures from Ofcom

Telecoms regulator Ofcom published figures on Wednesday showing that broadband take-up has continued its steady increase in both businesses and homes, while dial-up is in decline. This trend may be partly behind the apparently inexorable rise of spam and virus attacks.

The percentage of SMEs using broadband has increased from 35 to 37 percent since November 2003. Similarly, the percentage of home users subscribing to broadband has increased from 22 to 25 percent since November 2003, concurrent with a decrease in dial-up use from 73 to 67 percent. The number of broadband users in the UK was just under 4 million at the end of April.

Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant for Sophos, said on Thursday that the increasing use of broadband is "a real problem" because of the risk that always-on connections pose in terms of sending spam and propagating viruses.

Cluley said that ISPs selling broadband services should take a more proactive approach to educating their customers, to ensure that their connections are fully protected from security threats. Otherwise the problem will only increase as more users move over to broadband.

"Anyone selling broadband access, at a minimum, should be pointing to firewalls, antivirus software and the latest Microsoft software patches," said Cluley.