Earthlink Leads the Way in DSL Security




Earthlink Leads the Way in DSL Security
L. Taylor - August 8, 2000

Event Summary

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) services are hot, and if you don't already have high-speed Internet access, you are wishing you did. For a small price increase over traditional ISP services, users can upgrade to a DSL line and access the Internet at record speeds. However, one of the biggest stumbling blocks to doing so has been the security implications. DSL services expose your system to a much greater degree to cybercriminals and cybervandals.

Market Impact

Until Earthlink's announcement, the only way for ISP customers to protect themselves from wily world wide web security intrusions was for customers to take this task into their own hands. Personal firewalls are becoming ubiquitously popular, and everyone is talking about which one they should install and why. Users want to know what TCP/IP services they should block, and what log file alerts they should report and respond to.

Earthlink, which last year merged with Mindspring, has gone the extra mile and is providing two types of personal firewalls to its DSL customers for free. PC users receive Symantec's Norton Personal Firewall 2000, and Mac users receive Open Door's DoorStop firewall. With the ability to provide DSL services to 50 metropolitan areas, Earthlink today is the only ISP that offers built-in security with its DSL services.

Earthlink customers receive instructions explaining what they need to do to activate their personal firewall. They also receive a unique secure download key that enables them to download it securely. With a reputation for superior customer service, Earthlink has found a way to sell DSL services alleviating the most talked about implementation concern - security.

User Recommendations

With both a privacy and firewall module, Symantec's personal firewall is well suited for multi-purpose Internet remote connectivity. The firewall module blocks both Java applets, as well as ActiveX controls. TCP/IP ports that are currently not being used are blocked by default. When an alert has been triggered, a menu pop-up appears and the user has the option of permitting the access on a one-time only basis, blocking the access on a one-time only basis, or configuring what is known as a firewall rule that will permanently block or permit the requested type of access. However, ultimately, the user needs to tell the personal firewall whether to block or permit the access.

The privacy module allows users to selectively block custom text strings from leaving their PC. Users can insert their credit card number, phone number, children's names, bank account number, words like "Proprietary," and other confidential strings into a file that will be prevented from being transmitted out from their PC.

Without DSL subscription through Earthlink, the Norton Personal Firewall retails at $49/year. If you're thinking of purchasing this firewall, you might want to think about signing-up for Earthlink DSL and obtaining it for free. This new offering is bound to reel in a lot of new customers for Earthlink, and put their well-known customer helpdesk technicians to the test.

We expect to see a lot of other ISPs follow suit and team up with some of the other personal firewall vendors. Various other personal firewalls on the market include: Black ICE Defender, Netscreen-10, SonicWall 10, Zone Alarm, Comsocks, and CyberArmor.

 
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