Do I need a router for protection?



My questions: Do I need a router for protection? Will it significantly improve my protection? When does "The Law of Diminishing Returns" apply if it would help just a little?

I have been reading about security. One site said a router makes my computer "invisible" on the internet. And another said "In very basic terms, a router will automatically reject unsolicited inbound communications to your PC. It will not reject solicited, but malicious, communications.".

I am running PC Tools Firewall Plus Free as my firewall and Avast 5 for malware protection. I have spent some time to learn how to work theses apps and set to most secure. PC Tools Firewall Plus Free was rated #2 firewall at matousec.com. I always use my computer in standard user account. If I need to use admin account I unplug network cable if I do not need internet for what I am doing. I looked up the specks of my cable modem and it is not a router. I use a direct network wire from modem to my computer. (I do not use anything "wireless" yet)

I tested my firewall at grc.com ShieldsUP! It passed every test except it failed the ping test because it responded to a ping. I also tested at grc.com LeakTest v1.2 and it failed in a strange way. When firewall alerted me to LeakTest v1.2 with the usual pop up warning "Allow or Block", I obviously blocked it as instructed by leaktest instructions, and immediately LeakTest v1.2 claimed it connected to grc.com and stated I failed the test. I suppose this is off subject because it is a matter to take up with PC Tools and grc.com.

Background info: Desktop AMD 4400+ 64X2 4GB memory 320GB HD Acer (AM3100-U3201A) purchased new February 2008 -- 32-bit MS Vista Home Premium SP2 -- MS auto updates on. Comcast ISP 12mbps service W\ Motorola SURFboard SB5101 Cable Modem direct to computer. No other switches or routers or wireless or phone line or any other networking hardware hooked up to this computer.

Thanks for the help
Bob

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