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Modem Security


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#1 honu1

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 07:43 PM

My brother in law was visiting recently+insisted that my modem was serving the same purpose as a router to enable all 3 of their laptops to have internet connection. I thought there was a difference between a modem+router, but he says they're the same.
What concerns me the most is that he said the "signal" was so strong that any of my neighbors could get access to all my personal data,passwords,financial,etc., as I didn't have a "secure" modem. I have no idea what he's talking about.
My ISP provided the modem as a "lease".
I've gone to their website, but can't seem to find any info on making my modem secure.

honu1
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#2 tos226

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 08:27 PM

Modem translates incoming analog signals to digital signals and the other way around for outgoing. No more no less. It's the physical or electronic level. Routers are smarter than that.

Router may have a modem component in it, but the primary purpose is a switch for several devices and routing between the networks where, one of the things it normally does is NAT, whereby it changes the IP address and always filters incoming traffic not destined for your computer.

Modem+router - some modems have the NAT component (network address translation)

Some of these boxes have a wireless section.
Wireless is always less secure than wired, since anyone can pick up radio signals.

A strong password in the router (or modem perhaps), WPA encryption are single most effective protection methods.

Does your modem actually have the wireless section. If so, you do need to secure it if it really broadcasts all over.

Edited by tos226, 22 August 2008 - 08:29 PM.


#3 honu1

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Posted 23 August 2008 - 06:00 PM

Actually, I have no clue if my modem has a wireless section. I don't know what that is.
Would it help you if I tell you the brand name+how it is connected?
Many months ago we used to have a lap top. In order for the lap top to function, we had to have a router also connected to my cpu as well as the modem. Don't have any of that anymore,just the cable modem.
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#4 tos226

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Posted 25 August 2008 - 10:45 PM

Since there was a talk about "signal strength" in your first post, I suspect it refers to wireless.

Is your computer connected to it with the cable?

Probably listing the model might help. Is there a manufacturer's site where you can get some information?

#5 honu1

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Posted 26 August 2008 - 04:02 PM

I figured giving more information would be helpful.
I am connected via cable. Also there is an electrical connection to my power strip.
The box says it's a Motorola Surfboard cable modem.
The model # is SB5120

I can try the web site listed on the box www.motorola.com/broadband, but I am not good about understanding all the "tech" speak.

When you mention the term "wireless", am I correct in assuming you are referring to a router? All I have connected to my cpu is the modem.

Thanks for any help you can offer.

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#6 tos226

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Posted 26 August 2008 - 07:38 PM

I really don't care how you connect the power plug.
I do care how your computer is connected to that Motorola box, specifically is there a cable from the Motorola box to your computer. More specifically is it connected into the computer RJ45 jack which looks a bit like a phone socket except it's wider.

All this will actually be answered another way. Please follow these steps exactly.
Start
find an item called "Run", press Enter
In a little textbox that comes up, type "cmd" without the quotes, press Enter
A big black window will open with this sort of information in it:

Microsoft Windows XP [Version 5.1.2600]
© Copyright 1985-2001 Microsoft Corp.

C:\Documents and Settings\someUserNameHere>

Please, where the cursor is flashing type "ipconfig" then space then "/all" but without any quotes
A description of your connections will come up

In order to post the text here, you need to copy the results like this
On the window top bar, the blue one, right click
Select the Edit menu item, then select "Select all"
All the text will turn white. While the text is so selected,
Once again, select Edit menu item, then select "Copy"

And paste it into your reply to this message.
All this to just determine whether you're using a wired or wireless connection, but it will say few other things which might help if you have problems.

#7 tos226

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Posted 26 August 2008 - 08:01 PM

Honu1,
I think you can ignore what I wrote above.

According to the model comparison chart http://broadband.motorola.com/consumers/cable_modems.asp, only SBG900 has the wireless section.
According to http://broadband.motorola.com/consumers/products/sb5120/ this box is not a wireless modem at all, just a normal, wired, Ethernet 10/100 device. Therefore all the talk about signal strength makes no sense to me at this point, sorry. Unless someone were to physically tap into your wires within the cable, a rather unlikely scenario.

Signal strength, wireless (radio) connections normally talk about signal strength and the need for encryption and passwords more strict than a wired connection. This does not seem to apply to the modem you have. But I may be missing something in the Motorola description :thumbsup: so let's hope someone else takes a look.

My reading of the quick reference pdf data sheet indicates it is not a NAT router. A router (wired or wired+wireless) can be connected between the modem and the computer.

#8 honu1

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Posted 27 August 2008 - 05:06 PM

Thanks,tos, for trying to sort this out. I hope that some other members here will kindly respond to my concerns/questions.

I don't know what made my brother-in-law say that a router+modem were the same thing.He really scared me when he stated that anyone could have access to what's in my system, such as passwords,financial info,etc. He talks all techy, so I figured he knew what he was talking about. Perhaps not.
I was a victim of identity theft months ago. The police officer who took my statement+the credit card bureau involved figured my information was found/taken from the internet. I am the only one here at home who has access to or ever uses my computer, so it's all very strange. So you can see why I am being so concerned about this security issue.

Thanks
honu1
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#9 tos226

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Posted 27 August 2008 - 07:24 PM

Many cable or DSL modems are routers as well in that they do the NAT=Network address translation where to the outside your IP appears as x.x.x.x and on the inside of the router's firewall it's y.y.y.y. They route the traffic to you which should be routed, and block the rest. I don't think your modem does that. Therefore I'd highly recomment you get yourself a real router and install it between the modem and the computer, or at least a very good firewall on the computer itself.

On top of that many of the routers are also wireless (meaning cabled as well as the radio), so the security issue is magnified. Whether your brother-in-law is right or wrong is not for me to judge, but I suspect he made some assumptions and showed on overabundance of caution, which is just fine in my book.

Identity theft, far as my understanding of the advices on this forum goes, most likely got you when you visited some bad site or clicked on something in email or clicked on something on a website which caused a trojan to be downloaded to your computer to make it open to the criminals. Do you have a good antivirus and good antispyware such as Superantispyware?




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