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Why do I need a router?

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When I got my new laptop, I unthinkingly connected it to the Internet via my old router which my old PC needed.
Today my old router died, then revived, then died again.
I called our ISP Help Desk, and tomorrow their service rep is coming to bring a new router and $9.99/mo 2/yr service contract for me to sign.
But...I just unplugged my Internet cable from the dead router and plugged it directly into the new laptop.
I was asked if I wanted my laptop to be 'seen' by 'other PCs on this network' (my home), with a recommendation to choose 'Yes', so I did.
So now I'm getting on the Internet just fine.
So...why do I need a router?

There are right now hundreds of script kiddies scanning the public address space you are on, looking for any kind of a response. Once a response is found, it triggers whatever exploit kits they have bought or found, which try out every known way to get through software design bugs and into your system. They either want to track your activity and find your banking passwords, encrypt your files and demand payment, and/or drop software on your PC to send porn or mine bitcoins.

If you have any defect, even momentary, in your software protection, and you temporarily leave the door ajar, then you can be a victim. Of course, that might not happen... your system could work perfectly, and MS updates might not have any new defects going forward. Just saw the D-Day programs and I'm thinking of the German fortifications along Normandy, imposing stuff but with persistence you recall it was breached. Script kiddies are very persistent. But you can purchase a cheap router for easily under $50 and that adds another layer of protection, and it is locked down enough to make it quite a bit more difficult to breach.

Just as an aside, I  put a modem on my Dad's pc many years ago (probably early 80's), after installing the new thing - a "software firewall" that called itself ZoneAlarm. Even on a 14.4 modem, it took less than 12 minutes for the first intrusion attempt hits to be logged. Don't think for a minute they've stopped.

Stoic Joker:
What IP Address did the ISP's router assign to your laptop? If it is a private range address (like 192.168.x.x) then you are fine. If it is a public range IP Address, then the above is quite dangerously true.

What IP Address did the ISP's router assign to your laptop? If it is a private range address (like 192.168.x.x) then you are fine. If it is a public range IP Address, then the above is quite dangerously true.
-Stoic Joker (June 07, 2019, 07:23 AM)
--- End quote ---

This.  And if you're connected directly, I have no question that it's a public range.  The router serves as a buffer between you and the internet, and most (all?) include a hardware firewall.  Don't trust your local one on this.  I'd not be surprised if something hasn't already hit your laptop if you don't have a firewall installed.  And if you do, I'd still not be surprised.  I did it one time because I didn't believe that the reports were true of just how much bad stuff was out there.  I took a decommissioned laptop and connected it directly.  It was amazing at how little time it took to be attacked. 

If you're reading this right now on that laptop, disconnect.  Wait until you get a router.  Then thoroughly check to make sure that nothing is on there.  You can also buy your own (they don't really tell you that) and skip the monthly fee in exchange an up-front cost.

Wow, looks like I asked the right question; many thanks, and sorry about the 'duh' factor. I have an old -as in about 10 or 15 years- "Intellinet wireless LAN router with 4 port and 10/100 switch". I once had it hooked up but somehow over time it ended up back in its box neglected on a shelf. So I plugged in power, input, and output cables and plugged the output into my new laptop--and it works! No setup or anything, just pure plug & play. The ISP tech guy came and picked up the old leased dead router; he said my Intellinet router's 10/100 speed matches up with my ISP connection speed. I don't know about if it's 'connected directly' or otherwise, but I seem to remember the sales guy telling me when I originally bought it, all about the extra layer of protection which the router provided; it sounded similar to what you people are telling me now.


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