To Connect or Disconnect When Not in Use?
No, I’m not about to wax Shakespearean about the slings and arrows of outrageous spyware, as amusing as that might be.
This choice relates to so many readers’ questions. Should you leave your computer connected to the internet when you aren’t working online? “It takes so long to re-dial,” or “I can’t reach the connection cord, but I’ve heard (fill in your own favorite rumor here).”
Personally, I choose to only stay connected when I’m working at my computer, online or off. When I’m not physically sitting at my computer, I disconnect the cable line manually since it’s easy to reach on my system. I think of it as raising the drawbridge against the bad guys. When your computer is not online, there’s no route for remote unauthorized access. Of course, many PCs have their connection cables in the back where they can be hard to reach.
Other folks in the office like to use an option in their firewall Shut off Net Connection to disconnect from the web without reaching for the cords. This will look different in every firewall program, and it may not be available in all of them.
In XP, you also have the ability to disable net connections through My Network Places, typically found as an icon in the upper left corner. Click on that and the Network Connections window will appear. Right-click on your connection and choose Disable.
To get your connection back, repeat the above instructions, only choose Enable or Connect instead of Disable. There may be a brief delay and icon change while your PC gets a fresh IP address from your service provider.
In fact, it’s a good idea to run your antivirus and antispyware programs while your PC is offline every once in awhile. Some spyware can alert an offsite user (you know, the bad guy) that your scan has started so he can put the malware back onto your machine as soon as the scan has completed. Obviously, you’ll want to update your definition files online before you go offline to scan your system, but scanning while offline prevents outside interference with your security measures.
~ Chris Fisher