Tuesday, March 01, 2005

"Shaw Secure" or is it?

I have been peppered with email lately from clients asking if they should sign up for the latest "shaw secure" which is a security package that the internet provider is offering. First issue is cost. Yes, for now it is free, but there will be fees. That brings up another issue on whether or not this should just be something they are doing anyway? Just like Hotmail is scanned with antivirus so why wouldn't you just forward all your mail to there and know that you are reading mail that has been scanned. If your internet provider can provide you with a more secure connection to the internet, that is, a place that you can supposedly feel comfortable knowing that you are going to be free from viruses, but are you? The simple fact is that even with antivirus running on your computer directly, you are not necessary NOT going to get viruses, but the simple truth is that you will be notified of a virus IF your antivirus has the latest definitions to know what a virus is. And, if you do have the latest definitions and the virus is detected then odds are you will be able to remove it without too much damage being done to your system.. Hopefully. It can be like a bomb going off on your computer however, whereas other system files are corrupted, etc.. Meaning that it would be much smarter to simply "reinstall" your operating system. But if it was a "trojan horse" virus, this could have been installed from something as simple as a cd being inserted that was a disc copied from some other computer and viola, the trojan horse installs and now you have a virus. If you are lucky your antivirus would detect it immediately and deal with it. .. But what if your antivirus is actually not "on" your computer but on a network computer? Basically so long as you are connected to the internet, and your internet provider, you should be ok, since you are the "slave" to the mothership which is your internet provider. There have been many online antivirus services available for a fee in the past and still are, both Symantec and McAfee offer these. So this brings me back to the first question as to why would the internet provider not just automatically offer this service if they have it? You would hope that the computer equipment your internet provider is using to implement the service to your home would have to be covered with some antivirus protection so that their machine doesn't crash, bringing down their entire network, therefore that same protection should be implemented to the entire organization, but any additional equipment required would have to come from some where. If they are to stay competitive with the competition, then a lot of these services will automatically be offered for free, and some with exceptions such as "sign up for X amount of years". This was a tactic for many start up internet providers in the dial-up days, but what happens when someone comes along offering a better deal? They too had to merge with others, forming a large enough contingency to make it as an internet provider. www.img.net and www.vip.net were two "locals" in my area in which you will now see point to a new "larger" provider.

So should you get the secure system? Sure why not.. Well, because they have asked you to remove any and all antivirus and firewalls from your own computer.. That's why! Quite simple actually. You can remove it and allow the network to run as a part of a larger group. I say go for it, if it was free, and some sort of guarantee when I put a virus infected disc in my system and it stops it without me having to have my internet working 100 percent of the time, and that is something they will never be able to provide at the price you are currently paying for internet. This is because there is no redundancy. I personally had a major problem with my DSL provider whereas I was without highspeed from them for 3 weeks. Of course they allowed me use of the dial up service, over the 5 hours per month that I was allowed... So I thought, but in my case it was not quite that simple. You see, I made use of their online service BEFORE they were authorized to remove their monthly amount out of my account (note that you are signing allowing them to withdrawal ANY amount and you must specify with them on this!). I noticed that I had a total of over $500 in charges due to me being on 24/7 for 3 weeks of down time, and let me also state that in that time, I had ordered broadband from the local provider. It arrived the same day my DSL started to work so from then on I have stayed paying for both, so that I know I have one working. But of course, if they were to dig up a ditch I am sure I would lose both at the same time so in some cases.. But that would be in a very unlikely circumstance. In any case, not getting too far off the topic, even after notifying the provider, which assured me that it would not be taken from my account, it did in fact come out a day later. In the end, 30 days later, it was returned to my account. I received one free month (that is I was without for 3 weeks so they figured that was fair). Then because of the mistake they made taking out over $500 from my account and making me go without it (note that it was never theirs in the first place so does this not seem like a simple case of "theft"?), they figured 1 month was enough. That means I received a total of 2 free months for giving some company $500 of my money to use as they like for 30 days. That is, after not having the highspeed service that I was paying for for 3 weeks, I received 1 month and an additional month for the other mistake. And to top it all off, I still use the service. Now if that isn't having some sort of monopoly.... The bottom line is no matter who you use for an internet provider, they are going to give you and hopefully everyone of their customers the same service, in the end when they start offering "bonus services" you should take a look closer at the actual end result from taking on the bonus services... Do they in fact make things better for your internet enjoyment or will it cause more problems?

From a guy that repairs those problems, I will say that every computer I work on will always have some form of antivirus protection running on it "locally".