File sharing programs secretly use your bandwidth.

The advent of peer-to-peer (P2P) technology combined with new utilities to facilitate file-sharing activity causes a hardship to all Internet Service Providers (ISP's). The problem is not unique to Country Vision Cable, but is a worldwide issue wherever a shared network resource exists. The issue grew as awareness increased, and new utilities were made available. The function of downloading MP3s shares the same technology that allows hackers to abuse our resources. In fact it opens a door for them.A lot of people don't realize that Bearshare, Gnotella, KaZaA, Limewire, Morpheus, etc. will share your downloaded songs and videos, waste your bandwidth (Internet speed), and turn themselves on without telling you. Many people use these programs, but don't realize that the programs run "hidden" in the background using your bandwidth. If you use a peer-to-peer (p2p) file-sharing application like KaZaA, you may be functioning as a server for others to download files from your computer. Not only can this impact network performance for your computer, but it can significantly impact all who use the Country Vision Cable network. Most file-sharing applications enable sharing by default, often without restriction.You can improve network performance and reduce excessive bandwidth consumption by either managing or disabling sharing. Additionally, many file-sharing applications come bundled with "adware" or "spyware" which are automatically installed on your computer along with the file-sharing application. This software can monitor your activity, sending information to third-party vendors and advertisers on such things as what web pages you browse or what searches you perform. Apart from privacy concerns, these add-ons use your computer's system resources to operate and will affect performance. Depending on how much spyware and/or adware you have installed, this may be significant.

In addition to the bandwidth issue, it is worthwhile to understand that the distribution of copyrighted material violates Country Vision Cable's Terms of Service, and will subject you to suspension or termination of your Internet connection.

Here are the things we want you to do:

  • Prevent the program from starting automatically.
  • Stop sharing files.
  • Close the program when you are finished.
  • Prevent the program from acting as a "supernode", which is like a middleman for other programs and secretly uses your bandwidth.
  • Our goal is to allow P2P activity, and still maintain a secure and viable network for all to use.

Protecting your Computer

As the millions of personal computers of the world move from dial-up lines to permanent connections such as DSL, cable, or wireless broadband, a vast new array of potentially targets turn up on the Internet, at static IP addresses, for hackers to use, sometimes for fun, and sometimes to stage further break-ins.

Why should I care about security?

Your computer is on the Internet. Others on the Internet, anywhere in the world can try to access your machine. This is no different to being with any ISP, but with broadband, there are few major differences:

  • Your computer is connected via a high speed link
  • Many of us stay connected 24 hours a day
  • Most broadband users are online whenever their computer is on
  • This makes these machines more interesting to hackers and therefore more vulnerable. The chances of someone snooping undetected around your hard disk if you are connected with a 56k modem are simply lower. Also, home or office networks can transfer viruses or worms via the network very quickly.

Good PracticesNearly every version of Windows, by default, is horrendously insecure. Turn off File and Print sharing! Too many broadband users out there have their hard disks publicly exposed for all to see. Turn off Personal Web Sharing! It's a security breach waiting to happen.

There are a number of good security practices available that users can implement to provide better security protection on their computers. We have listed some good security practices below:

Email AttachmentNever open any executable attachment or script received by email unless you are very sure of its original and are convinced the originator has excellent virus/Trojan protection in place. (Don't even preview it in Outlook; turn the preview pane feature of Outlook off).

File and Printer SharingDisable file and printer sharing, especially on PCs with open Internet access. If you must have file and printer sharing on your home or office network, be sure to have passwords on your shared resources and only give write permissions when necessary rather than the default full control.

Install Anti-virus Software to prevent Virus, Trojan and Worm attack

  • Install anti-virus software and keep it up to date.
  • Scan email attachments before opening MS Office: Switch on Word/Excel 97 Macro virus protection (Tools/Options/General/Macro virus protection) or run Word/Excel 2000/2002 with at least medium security settings. This will ensure the user is presented with a dialog box when documents containing macros are opened. If suspect Word documents are received by email, open them in Wordpad rather than Word, since macros won't be understood by Wordpad. Set the file-permissions of "normal.dot" to read only, to prevent viruses or Trojans from infecting your Word setup. If possible, configure your browser to ignore ActiveX and prompt when Java or Jscript or VBscript is run.
  • Don't stay connected to the network unless you need to.
  • Switch off machines when they are not in use.
  • Back up your system regularly.

Keep up-to-date on security fixes for your operating system and programs

Install firewall software to prevent attacks from being successfulInstalling a software firewall like Zone Alarm is a good idea, and a hardware barrier of some kind is even better. But whatever you do, don't ignore the problem. Computer security is a very real threat for broadband users.

Zone AlarmZone Alarm is a pretty good personal firewall, which places an emphasis on programs attempting to connect to the Internet without your permission. Best of all, it is free for personal and non-profit use. Grab your copy here: http://www.zonealarm.com/

Norton Personal FirewallNorton Personal Firewall is a firewall by utilities vendor Symantec. Norton Internet Security can also block banner and popup ads, as well as Flash and Java applets. Expect to pay commercial software prices. More information here: http://www.symantec.com/home_homeoffice/products/internet_security/npf2006/index.html

Other Firewall'sThere are many firewall programs available online. Check out download.com for reviews and downloads!

Conclusion:High-speed, always-on Internet connections have changed the way we communicate around the world, but they open our computers up to malicious attacks much more so than slower dialup connections. By following some basic procedures, you can minimize the damage or inconveniences caused by these attacks. Be sure to protect your computer and yourself.

At Country Vision Cable, we will be on the lookout for suspicious virus-like or worm-like activity coming from computers on our high-speed network. It is the responsibility of our customers to make sure their computers are protected and fixed in the case of an infection. In the event that we detect this type of activity, you will be notified by us that you may have a problem that needs immediate attention. In order to protect our network and others who use our service, it may become necessary to temporarily suspend Internet service to your computer until the problem is resolved. Thank you for your understanding and your continued business.