Internet Connection Services and Connection Security
I want to share some ideas and experience to help you understand the concepts around connection security.
Broadband Internet Connection Services
Way back when… before ISPs figured out how to send signals along coaxial cable and telephone lines, all we had were dial-up Internet connection services. Even though log in and session attacks were far fewer than today, Netscape Communications (founded in 1994) developed the HTTPS web browser scheme to take advantage of the SSL protocol they developed. Although SSL (secure socket layer) has long since been replaced by TLS (transport layer security), the term “SSL” is still used when referring to TLS on web browsers.
Over the years, the infrastructure for broadband services has changed a lot when you consider how little the monopolistic providers have wanted to upgrade, milking every penny they can get out of the existing technologies. Most of their routers have been replaced by switches, but only as they needed to be replaced. Eavesdropping is far harder to carry out on “switch” connections that aren’t shared, requiring hardware manipulation techniques.
Security of Internet Connection Services
For most purposes, the stateless HTTP web browser scheme is enough for daily web browsing. When you start dealing with financial institutions and online commerce websites, however, nothing short of stateful HTTPS connections offer enough security to be safe.
DSL and cable Internet connections, because of the switches and the IP security measures put into place over the years by the ISPs, can be fairly secure with standard HTTP log in authentication routines (which is what the software for this website, WordPress, normally uses). This is because they travel over wires.
Wi-Fi Internet connections, more often than not, are not nearly as secure as “wired” connections. There are many reasons why, but some of them are simply because the people using Wi-Fi connections aren’t setting them up correctly. People have as much difficulty with broadband wireless connections as they do with home Wi-Fi connections. It’s especially confusing when there are so many ways to use Wi-Fi. In essence, some people are providing open Wi-Fi connections, or easily penetrated connections, without even knowing they’re doing it.
Experiences with Broadband Internet Connection Services
I’ve left out some of the lesser used broadband types, like satellite Internet, because I have no experience with them. I’ve dealt with dial-up, cable, DSL and most recently, Wi-Fi. In fact, I’m on a shared Wi-Fi Internet connection as I write this.
One of my sisters-in-law has the same type of DSL connection in the Philippines that I had until I left the country – she often talks to my wife over Skype. Before DSL was even available at her place, she tried using a Wi-Fi connection furnished by one of the cell phone providers. Not only did she have to deal with an ISP that over-subscribed the connections, the Wi-Fi signal didn’t work during rainy season, when the rainfall was nearly constant.
Before I left the Philippines, I was well aware that the only type of broadband connection that would be available to me upon arrival here in Phoenix would be Wi-Fi (at this apartment complex). I can’t complain, really, because it’s included in the cost of rent, along with the other utilities. Since I don’t trust the security of any kind of Wi-Fi connections I don’t control both ends of, I spent several hours securing the administrative sections of all my websites before I even connected with my laptop the first time after arrival.
I hope I’m not confusing you more than you already might be when it comes to Internet connection services. Depending on what you read and where you read it, the terminology can be different. The best advice I can give you is simply this: If it’s a website requiring a log in, look for the HTTPS scheme on the address line (or the padlock on web browsers than don’t show the scheme). Use SSL with Wi-Fi connections when possible, even if it seems like overkill.
Depending on where you live, in what country or even part of a country, you’re probably limited as to what types of Internet connection services are available to you. In some places, cable Internet is the best, in others DSL is the best and so on. I tend to judge the best to be the most stable connection, regardless of speed. Sometimes, as strange as it may seem, a Wi-Fi connection may be more stable than a wired connection.