Proper tools secure Internet connections

Thursday, 23 October 2003, 11:49 AM EST

You've made the leap to broadband. Now what?

Making certain your connection is secure should be first on your list. Preventing hackers from gaining access to your files or, just as bad, your hardware itself is not difficult.

If you only have one computer attached to your cable or digital subscriber line connection, you'll do fine with a software-based firewall for protection. What's a firewall? It's a barrier — in this case a digital one — that stops invaders from gaining access to your system.

Not having a firewall is a lot like leaving all your doors and windows open when you go away on vacation. But, inside your PC, those doors and windows are called "ports." Ports are essentially numerical addresses in your PC's networking setup through which information is exchanged, including Web pages, file downloads, e-mail, chat and more.

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