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theoretical risk of malware infection

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It's not that I'm really afraid of this happening (at least I don't think I need to be this paranoid yet), but I was just wondering:

With a cable modem, you're always connected to the internet, so if you're logged into Windows, then don't you not even have to open your browser to in effect be visiting your homepage, and thereby be risking malware infection?

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In a sense, you are correct. Modern internet connections (cable, DSL, etc...) are always connected to the internet, provided your ISP is functioning properly. Most computers are designed to automatically connect to their preferred network- almost always the home network for home PC users. Of course, it isn't necessary to be connected to the internet- paranoid users (such as myself B) ) can disconnect from their network connection whenever they aren't using the internet. This decreases the time your system is connected to the network (and subsequently, the internet), and offers hackers less of a chance to access your system (you can't hack what isn't there). Of course, most people don't take this step.

Scenarios like this provide a perfect case study of why it is essential to have functioning, updated anti-virus and anti-malware software installed on your system. Because of your near-constant connection to the internet (and thus, you vulnerability to hackers) it is vital that you keep your system protected.

Visiting your homepage is different, though. There's a difference between the 'internet' and the 'web'. Details can get kind of picky; I suggest Googling the subject. B) But in short, the internet is a connection of computers throughout the world. The web is the stuff that the internet allows people to access- webpages and stuff like that. Without the internet, the web wouldn't exist. But without the web, the internet would still function. Your question revolves around web access. Hackers can still access your system regardless of whether you are connected to the web (i.e., your browser is open). As long as you are connected to the internet, hackers can try to gain access to your system.

I know this sounds scare-tactic-esque, and I promise I don't mean to come off like that. If you're system is protected with the proper software and you practice safe computing habits, you really have nothing to worry about. :)

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Just to add, if your computer is connected directly to your (DSL, Cable, etc) modem them you are more at risk.

You can use a router between your modem and your computers (to use as a firewall). This increases your security and provides a firewall and makes it harder for hackers to access your system.

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Most modern modems that are used to provide "Always on" connection have a built in firewall as well as router capabilities.

What is the make and model of the modem you are using Bob?

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