Making it tough on digital thieves

Boston Globe Online / Business / Making it tough on digital thieves. PC owners can take simple steps to keep vandals at bay

''Nobody's configuring their routers,'' said Ford, owner of Blue Island Technology, a Somerville-based residential wireless networking company. ''Most don't have passwords.''

Instead, they brought them home, switched them on, and invited the unwelcome attention of any computer criminal within the router's 300-foot transmission range.

Dial-up machines are rarely connected for more than a few hours, offer very slow network speed, and usually get a different digital Internet address each time they log on. But broadband machines offer fast data throughput, and stay connected at the same address for days, weeks, or months. That makes them more useful to their owners, but far more susceptible to attack.

The vulnerability of home machines threatens the security of the whole network. A PC, once compromised, can be used as the launching pad for attacks on other computers. For example, the e-mail security firm MessageLabs said last week that it has found evidence junk e-mailers are using a virus that causes infected computers to pump out spam messages to other Internet addresses.  [Privacy Digest]

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