Tips for Securing Your Home Router
Seemingly minor and easily overlooked settings can still have profound security implications. Here are some steps you can take to make sure your wired or wireless home router — and by extension, your network — is as secure as possible.
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Connecting LANs wirelessly requires the use of Wireless
Bridges. Up until recently (mid 2001), Wireless
Bridges have been expensive and intended primarily for "enterprise"
use. Some of these high-end products from companies such
(formerly Breezecom)use proprietary standards and won't
interoperate with 802.11b equipment. However, as the 802.11b
standard has gained popularity, most new products are using
These products come in different flavors, as manufacturers
experiment with different price / feature combinations.
Here are some of the different modes you'll find in Wireless
Different manufacturers may use different names
to describe these operating modes.
Point to Point (Master /
- This mode connects two LAN segments by using
two Bridge units. In some cases, such as the SMC2682W,
one unit is set to Master mode, the other to Slave mode.
Other products, such as the upgraded Linksys
WAP11, allow you to control which of multiple Bridge
units to connect to by entering the MAC address of the unit
at the other end of the wireless bridge.
Point to Multi-Point
- As the name implies, this mode lets you construct a network
that has multiple Bridge units talking to each
other wirelessly. Again, there are differences
in implementation. The SMC2682W uses a single Master
and multiple Slave units. The Linksys WAP11 uses a
mode that sets all units in a multi-point network to a "Point
to Multi-Point" mode.
Master plus AP
- This mode may be unique to the SMC2682W. It allows
a unit set to Master mode to communicate with Slave units,
as well as wireless clients within its
range. NOTE that Slave units don't have the same ability,
and can communicate only with the Master unit.
- This may be the best of all modes! In two of the previous
cases, neither Bridge unit will connect to wireless
clients within its range. Each Bridge unit talks
only to one or more other Bridge units. "Enterprise"
level Access Points made by Symbol and OEMd by 3Com,
(PRO 2011), and others feature a "WLAP" function
that supports simultaneous AP-to-AP bridging and wireless
client to AP connection (repeating). This is
the most flexible of all methods, but it'll cost you, since
these products typically run $500 and up per unit. See
this page from the on-line Intel Pro/2011 Access Point
Reference Guide for some diagrams and further explanation of
what these products will do.
These products are priced 2 to 3 times higher than the $250 or
so that you'll pay for consumer-grade Access Points that don't support
bridging, although this may be changing. As mentioned above,
Linksys has introduced an upgrade to their WAP
11 Access Point that adds both Point-to-Point and Point-to-Multi-Point
bridging capability, while keeping the price at around $200!
Just as Linksys fired the "shot across the bow" of other
consumer router makers with their original 4 port router, this move
may start to bring down prices on 802.11b wireless bridges.
The bottom line is that wireless bridges vendors are focused
on "Enterprise" business, and are priced accordingly.
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