Fiber cables, internet speeds and botnets | Q&A with Patrick Marshall

Q: I’m an Xfinity/Comcast subscriber. They’ve recently either added or upgraded the fiber cable throughout our neighborhood. One of the linemen said it would allow for faster speeds. But the line from the street to the house and the cable running through the walls hasn’t been upgraded since it was installed 20 or more years ago. Does that old copper coaxial cable present limitation to the service?

Steve Call

A: If the wiring between the street and your house is coaxial cable it should be able to handle anything your internet service provider can dish out as long as it isn’t damaged. But just because your provider upgraded its street wiring doesn’t mean you’ll get faster service. At best, you’re still only going to get something in the neighborhood of the speed of service you’re paying for.

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If you’re not happy with your internet speed, I suggest running a broadband speed test to check on where the performance might be lagging. I use Speedtest by Ookla.

First, run a test with your computer connected directly to your cable modem via Ethernet cable. If you have gigabit service you should see a result around 900 megabits per second for downloads. If not, contact your internet service provider.

Next try the speed test connecting through your Wi-Fi router. You’ll see a significant drop in speed. Just how much depends primarily on the standards supported by your router and the client adapters in your computers.

I subscribe to gigabit internet but my speed test comes in at about 250 megabits per second for downloads when connecting over Wi-Fi and using hardware that supports the current Wi-Fi 6 standard. That’s plenty fast enough to prevent video buffering and other aggravations of slow connections.

Bear in mind, though, even if you have a high-performance Wi-Fi router it will only deliver performance supported by the Wi-Fi client adapter in your computer.

If your internet speed isn’t satisfactory you need to find the weakest link in your network — the ISP, the cable router, the cables, the Wi-Fi router, your client network adapter.

Q: In the past week or so, I have been receiving “threats blocked” from my Avast protection that say: We’ve safely aborted connection on because it was infected with URL: Botnet.

I have received 15 of these notices from Avast since July 28. I have Avast Premium and Malwarebytes Premium installed, and have performed manual multiple scans. I am using Firefox as my browser. Is there anything else I should or could do?

Mike Diamanti, Coupeville

A: The good news is that it seems that your security software is doing what you want it to do.

It appears to be a server owned by an online advertising company Sovrn that’s triggering that alert and causing your security software to abort the connection. I’d avoid the website where the alerts were triggered. If the website is a legitimate one that you want to keep visiting contact the webmaster, and let them know about the botnet.

A botnet, by the way, is a network of computers running “bots,” which are programs that run automated scripts. That doesn’t mean the bots are necessarily doing anything malicious to your computers or network. They may just be collecting information, but I don’t want them collecting my information so, yes, I want to be protected from connecting to botnets.

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