Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
It's typically not necessary, or even desirable, to disconnect your modem when not in use, but there are steps you should take to stay safe.
Should I physically disconnect my modem cable when I'm not on my computer? Can hackers access my computer when it's not turned on, but the modem cable is still attached?
The short answer is no, you do not need to disconnect your modem cable.
But the longer answer is that you do need to make sure you have a certain amount of security in place.
One scenario is easy: if your computer is turned off, you're safe. No hacker is going to be able to access it - unless they walk in the room and turn it on, of course.
The more common scenario, though, is that not using your computer isn't always the same as not turning it off. Many people, myself included, leave their computers on for extended periods of time. You may not be "on your computer", but your computer is on. And that requires some security.
Yep, one brute-force approach to security would be to disconnect or turn off your modem if you're going to leave your computer on. I don't recommend it, as it's likely to cause more connection and reconnection issues than it'll solve. Yes, I know it's supposed to work transparently, but my experience is simply that things get confused when modems and internet connections come and go frequently. Besides, it's not really necessary.
If you're on dial-up you're already pretty safe, but you should turn on the Windows firewall. That will provide an important layer of protection against hackers while you're connected. If you're not dialed-in and connected there's no way for hackers to access your computer.
If you're on broadband - by definition an "always on" connection - then my recommendation is that you get a router and install that between your computer and your modem. Not only will it allow you to add more computers to your internet connection later, but the router provides an extremely effective firewall against outside intrusions.
Once you have a firewall of some sort in place, you can feel safe leaving your computer and modem on all the time.
As I do.
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