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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9/11/01 Note that ZyWall 10 is essentially the same product,
but adds Content Filtering features. ZyXEL Web site says the P312 is
no longer available in the US. Also removed info on ICSA certification.
here for a summary of the Prestige 312's capabilities.
100Mbps, Link/Activity, for LAN ports
Link/Activity for the WAN por
One RJ45 10BaseT for the WAN
One RJ45 auto sensing 10/100BaseT LAN
Console (9p female D serial port)
printed User Guide
Read Me First sheet
CDRom with HTML Applications notes, PDF copy
of User guide, PNC Commander Windows admin programs, more
one normal UTP cable
one crossover UTP cable
DB-9M to DB25F/DB-9F serial "Y" cable
NO Hardware Reset switch
NO Uplink or Normal / Crossover switch
for LAN Port (see this
page if this concerns you!)
The good news is that the P312's firewall works, it's pretty speedy,
and ZyXEL has taken steps to improve their Telnet-only user interface
with the much-improved, but Windows-only "PNC" (Prestige
Network Commander) admin application. The 312 also supports
five different NAT modes (Multi-NAT) that advanced users
with multiple IP addresses will find handy.
The bad news is that the admin interface, although improved for
Windows users, still has a ways to go. The logging features
of the P312 also leave something to be desired, and port forwarding
is still limited to single ports. Read on for the full story...
and Basic Features
The P312 comes with a printed User's Guide that I found to be
much improved over Guides that came with previous ZyXEL products.
There seemed to be more explanations of features such as filtering,
and the chapters describing the 312's firewall and multiple NAT
modes were helpful. I would like to see more real examples
of how to use the multiple NAT modes, however (more on
The router default configuration has the WAN set to be a DHCP
client and the LAN DHCP server enabled, so many users will
just be able to plug and go. It also comes set to 192.168.1.1
and a default password, which you should change as soon
as possible, since it's commonly known!
If you can't use the default configuration, there's still hope
for a smooth setup. The setup for the 312 using the Windows
PNC (Prestige Network Commander) utilities was a much
better experience than my past experiences with ZyXEL's Telnet
based SMT (System Management Terminal). Note that I said
Windows-Based. You'll need to be running Win95, 98,
or NT4 to use the PNC. Anything else, and you're back to
Telnet and command lines, and no "Quick Start" guide
to help you either! (See
this tip for using the PNC with other ZyXEL and Netgear
products.) Let's see what you can do with the PNC. (Click
on any of the screenshots to open a new window with a full-sized
If you are running the right flavor of Windows, I advise
you to just pop the CD into your drive, click on the top "PNC"
menu choice in the window that comes up, and run the installer,
which even does some basic networking functionality checks.
After your system reboots, you should be taken to the "Internet
Access Wizard" where you can do basic setup as shown below
You'll probably spend more time in the Advanced
Setup PNC module, where you can access most of the 312's Ethernet
setup info, get system status, view and set logging, and most
importantly view and configure filters! (more on that later)
For remote administration, you can Telnet into the "Manager
Interface" from the WAN side, after you establish
a Firewall policy to allow Telnet sessions from the WAN (more
on this later). You may also be able to use the PNC applications
from the WAN, but I didn't test this.
The router allows only one login at a time, whether via the web,
Telnet interface, or PNC application. Note that the messages
(or lack thereof) that the second user gets can be confusing.
The PNC will
pop up a window asking you to reset the Subnet Mask if you try
to use two of the three PNC applications simultaneously.
Don't do it. Just say No and log out of the PNC
application that you're not using.
The Telnet Manager Interface will also log you out automatically
after 5 minutes, but the PNC apps will stay connected indefinitely!
If you want to change this timeout value you can, but you need
to drop down to the third control interface, the command
line interface mode. This mode can be accessed from
the Telnet interface or Advanced PNC app and if you love typing
cryptic commands in response to cryptic prompts, you'll be right
setup & Firmware upgrading
You can manually set the 312's WAN port information or have it
act as a DHCP client and obtain everything automatically.
It can handle "host name" authentication (like @Home
uses) , the RoadRunner TAS Authentication methods, and allow you
to set the WAN interface MAC address equal to that of a NIC connected
to the LAN side. This last method will help MediaOne/RR
users whose service is tied to a specific NIC avoid having to
call in their new MAC address.
On the LAN side, you can set the starting IP and range of addresses
that the DHCP server will hand out (up to a max of 32 addresses),
or disable it and assign your IP info manually. Note that
the DHCP server will also hand out Domain information if you've
entered it, a handy feature for @Home users.
The PPPoE setup allows you to enter your account login information
and set an idle timeout. The User name can be up to 45 characters
Firmware upgrading can be done either via FTP or by using the
PNC Advanced Setup's System Update feature.
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