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Are Home Firewalls Really That Important?

In the latter stages of the 2nd decade of the 21st century, our homes have not really changed that much from those of our parents. Aside from a new predominance of cheap throwaway furniture, todays house is largely similar to that of the 70’s. Similar, that is, until we change our point of view, examining not the visible spectrum but rather the electromagnetic spectrum. working-from-home_colorThe past 20 years have seen an explosion in our use of the airwaves and that change has not stopped at our front doors. Todays homes are filled with an argosy of gadgets, many of which independently communicate without any intervention from their human hosts. Indeed, whilst the home of the 70’s was equipped with two main communications channels, namely the desktop telephone and the front door, the contemporary home has been unrecognisably changed by the communications revolution. It is the network which has been the real change across the years, allowing us to reach out in countless different ways but also, quietly, allowing the world to reach in.

And reach in it does.

The latest Government Security Breaches Survey found that nearly three-quarters (74%) of small organisations reported a security breach in the last year; an increase on the 2013 and 2014 survey. SMEs are now being pinpointed by digital attackers. If SMEs are being targeted, rest assured that home networks are too.

So how do we protect our homes? Well, the picture isn’t as bleak as it may seem. Most ISP’s provide equipment which has a built in firewall. Firewalls form your home network’s primary defence against online security risks, and can therefore considerably boost your peace of mind concerning your network security. Without any human intervention, the stock firewall set at its default settings is pretty effective. It basically blocks everything from the outside unless it was requested by something on the inside. So far so good you may think, and you’d be right, however its that sticky part about human intervention that hides the real danger. People feel the need to change their firewall settings. Not only that, they download dodgy code, click dodgy links and generally just circumvent all that good security the firewall was designed to provide. Before long the network security is full of holes and the world starts reaching in.

Home networks are becoming ever more complex and the paucity of good quality consumer grade network equipment speaks volumes about our inevitable prioritisation of cost above just about anything. ocean-digital-home-upnp-dlna-font-b-network-b-font-font-b-device-b-font-newsIn their race to the bottom, home network equipment manufacturers need to keep their costs to the bare minimum. They do this by using free vulnerable operating systems which have no simple mechanism to ever be upgraded or more importantly fixed. Theres no getting around the fact that our homes are full of and will continue for quite some time to be full of network equipment that is of a shockingly low security standard.

This brings us nicely back to the question of the home firewall. Yes, generic router firewalls are great out of the box but they only look outwards and never inwards. It is becoming increasingly apparent that home networks which are basically the same as small business networks require better. Low cost solutions do exist and they are effective. For example for those with a spare PC hanging around, the option exists to install a free software firewall (e.g. Sophos XG Home Edition) but its far from an elegant solution to keep a dedicated PC powered up 24×7 and it is one which few consumers would countenance. Other dedicated hardware solutions exist of course but they can be expensive and are in all likelihood, business solutions. Sadly, for the consumer, the choice to manage a firewall in the home is still the preserve of the nerdy computer enthusiast who, ironically is probably less vulnerable than most.

legislationFor now the discussion remains unresolved. It is unlikely that the consumer will find it in their gift to look beyond cost to something that keeps their online lives secure enough and it will likely therefore fall to some broader agency to act. Whether that agency turns out to be the government, the banks who perhaps have most to lose, or some other combination of private sector collaborators remains to be seen. One thing however is certain. The problem is going to get worse before it gets better and it will probably take some form of paradigm shift in public perception for the motivation to be found.

Lets hope the cause of the paradigm shift isn’t too painful.

Could 4G help rural areas get online?

While the government likes to talk about broadband as a commodity, alongside water or electricity, the sad truth is that many rural areas can get little to no service. There have been many false dawns in rural broadband; so is 4G set to be the next one, or is it the real deal?

In simple terms, 4G mobile broadband is set to slowly replace the current 3G networks we have cross the UK. You’ll need a new smartphone or dongle to access it, but otherwise it should smoothly replace 3G while offering the promise of faster, more reliable mobile data transfer.

The case for 4G mobile broadband

The 4G revolution certainly has the potential to meet rural needs. Rollout should be relatively straightforward, with first-to-market EE (Orange and T-Mobile) having already brought 4G to 27 UK towns and cities since launching late in 2012.

Price shouldn’t be an issue either. Mobile network Three has announced it will not charge a premium (above its 3G charges) for 4G mobile broadband, so it will be tough for the other networks to do so once competition for customers hots up.

Then there are the speeds. EE has been quoting averages from 8-12Mb since launch, with the current potential for 40Mb max speeds. While this is a long way behind current UK fixed-line speeds over fibre (which are already 100Mb and rising), 40Mb would be more than fast enough for the majority of rural customers’ needs.

And better still, this is potentially the tip of the iceberg in terms of speed. Etislat tests last year clocked a new 4G record at more than 300Mb and while you’re not likely to get that in a windy field near you anytime soon, it shows what this fledgling technology still in the locker.

The case against

As always tends to be the case when it comes to broadband, the biggest barrier to rural 4G is money. While the mobile internet providers are always quick to get their shiny new networks up and running in London, Birmingham and Manchester, those of us living in less population dense areas know the postcode lottery all too well. The talk is always of ‘population’ coverage, not geographical, and you can be sure the 4G rollout will be no different.

Then there’s reliability. We’ve had 3G for a long time now and enjoy very high UK coverage in terms of population, but standing stock still isn’t often enough to hold a reliable signal – let alone moving around. This can make data downloads a tedious task, while streaming can be next to useless. When 3G arrived there was much talk of being able to scrap your fixed line connection – something few have gone on to risk.

This leads us nicely onto speeds. Again, while first 7Mb and then 14Mb were promised the UK average 3G mobile broadband speed has never really got higher than 1-2Mb. Independent 4G field testing isn’t averaging out at 10Mb yet, so for now the jury is very much out. However, many a rural broadband customer would happily accept a reliable 10Mb broadband package.

So yes, 4G mobile broadband has the potential to get rural areas online. But unless you have a very active council or business community getting behind your push for base stations, I wouldn’t start holding your breath just yet.

Author Bio: Matt Powell is the editor for the broadband provider comparison site Broadband Genie.

UK Satellite Broadband and Television on the same dish.

It is now possible to have one dish, or antenna as we prefer to call them, that provides satellite television as well as satellite broadband in the UK. We are the only satellite broadband service provider in the UK that is able to provide this service for our customers who can enjoy their Sky or Freesat television through the same dish as their satellite broadband service. Having entered into our partnership with SES last year, we have now began providing our customers with this uniquely packaged service enabling our satellite broadband customers to avoid the clutter of multiple dishes.

Customers who have an existing TVRO dish, can make use of these services by means of a simple upgrade. It is necessary to replace the dish with one of our solid construction dishes as shown on the left. Once the dish is replaced, we will also need to replace your TV LNB with a specialised LNB which is designed to prevent the received satellite television signals from being swamped by the transmissions from your Internet access iLNB. The image below shows the two different LNB’s positioned side by side in their multifeed clamp.

In the picture below right we can see the two different LNB’s positioned side by side in their multifeed clamp. The two LNB’s sit side by side with the larger iLNB for Internet transmission and reception secured at the focal point of reception from the Astra 23.5East orbit and the smaller quad feed filtered television LNB secured at the focal point of reception from the Astra 28.2 East orbit from which all Sky Digital and Freesat services are broadcast. This unique configuration enables our customers to enjoy both services at the same time without either service impacting the usability of the other.
Once this has been completed and the dish has been aligned using our simple to use point and play tool, the cable to the location where the satellite internet access modem will be located has been secured and the award winning Newtec Sat3Play equipment connected to the end of it has been positioned, its time to get connected.

Armed with the account credentials provided by us and allocated in accordance with your chosen subscription package, you need only use an internet browser on your PC or laptop to connect to the equipment and you’re up and running. The video belows shows the whole process in some detail and will, we hope, show you just how easily you can be connected to the net wherever you are in Western Europe.

We hope you’ll agree that our solution represents the best satellite broadband in the UK today. For customers who wish to use one dish to receive satellite TV as well as satellite broadband our Single Dish packages represent the cheapest satellite broadband in the UK.

If you’d like to find out more why not visit our website at www.apogeeinternet.co.uk or if you prefer you can give us a call free on 0800 012 1090. One of our customer service agents will be waiting to take your call and welcome you to our growing family of customers.

Satellite Broadband Internet for Scotland by Apogee Internet

Lets face it. Scotland is, for the most part, a relatively sparsely populated country. That is in the context of Western Europe. Away from the biggest cities and towns, its telecommunications infrastructure for the average end user is more likely to consist of a telephone line than a fancy high speed broadband connection. If a connection to the Internet is available for these areas it will probably run at a speed of less than 2 Mbps and often a connection to the internet is only available on a dial up modem connection which was so popular in the 1990’s and runs at a staggeringly slow 56 Kbps. It isnt even always necessary to leave the convenience of the town or village to experience these problems with many locations even within cities, towns or villages suffering from frustratingly slow access speeds.

As average speeds for the rest of the world have moved up, so has the average size and complexity of most websites which are usually designed on the assumption that visitors have a connection speed of at least 1Mbps. As for voice and video, these are services which can often seem a long way out of reach for the underserved rural marketplace in Scotland.

Various technologies have attempted to bridge that gap over the years since the arrival of the Internet but they have always proven to be either too costly or simply not reliable enough to make a difference. It was only recently that the promise of satellite technology was really able to deliver by providing cost effective, affordable and most importantly reliably usable services to the mass market. This is what we offer at Apogee Internet.

Our satellite broadband solutions cover Scotland as well as the rest of the UK and Ireland and indeed all of Western Europe. They provide our customers with truly high speed Internet access that can allow them to enjoy such services as catch up TV like BBC iPlayer, voice and videoconferencing services such as Skype, music and book downloads from the Apple iStore and even the thing that most of us take for granted, delay free web browsing. All of this is packaged at a very attractive price point and one which we continuously strive to ensure is the best value in the UK. In straightforward terms which our marketing department hates us using, we are the cheapest satellite internet provider in the UK.

But the cheapest satellite broadband in the UK does not mean we need to compromise on quality. All of our subscribers use the award winning Newtec Sat3Play terminal which ensures that the user experience is second to none and that the connection really squeezes the absolute best out of every ounce of precious bandwidth. Indeed we always contend that because of this equipment, our satellite broadband connections perform as good as or better than higher bandwidth (and higher cost) packages from our competitors.

On top of that, we use the best in terms of spacecraft. We have partnered with SES Astra to offer their award winning Astra2Connect service as the core of our satellite broadband packages. SES Astra are one of only a small handful of global giants in the world of satellite communications. This is the jewel in the crown of our service and one which ensures that we continue to offer the maximum possible in terms of data throughput even when atmospherics or other problems near the user on the ground would impinge on many other services.

Our equipment is easy to install and can be installed by anybody with average “do it yourself” skills if that is preferred to an installation by one of our professional installers. With easy to use tools like the Point & Play®, patent pending technology, which is included as a standard part of our customers welcome package the mystique is removed from the installation.

This tool allows the installer (be it a professional installer or the end-user) to easily position the antenna by identifying the satellite and providing instant feedback on both signal quality and lock. It can also save our customers money in the longer term enabling simple repositioning of the dish without having to call out and wait for an installation company, were the dish to be moved by a storm for example.

In summary, we at Apogee Internet offer a satellite internet service to Scotland which is unmatched in terms of quality at every level both in terms of the quality of the equipment as well as ongoing cost to our subscribers. Most of our team live and work in places just like those described above and the issues, problems and limitations which most of us at Apogee have experienced at one time or another are very close to our hearts.

We have made it a core value of our company to provide the most affordable and fastest possible service to individuals and businesses in Scotland left behind in the constantly developing Internet economy. If you would like to find out any more please visit our FAQ or contact us using our online enquiry form or perhaps even call us free in the UK on 0800 012 1090. We would love to hear from you and are happy to provide free advice to anybody experiencing difficulty getting connected to the network whether our customers or not. If you’d like to know more why not take a look at our main website which you can find here.

 

 

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