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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Proxim Symphony Cordless Ethernet Bridge
Author: Tim Higgins Review Date: 1/4/2000
Bottom Line: Easy to install
but will cost you speed and $.
This product is no longer being manufactured. No updates (hardware, firmware, or software) will be made. These pages are provided as a reference only. This product has been replaced by the Symphony HomeRF Base Station
Symphony Cordless Ethernet Bridgeallows you to easily connect your
Symphony wireless network into an existing Ethernet-based network. It
can act as a Transparent
Bridge, a NAT
router or both. In simple terms, this means that you can add computers equipped
with Symphony wireless cards (sorry, but it doesn't work with other
wireless cards) to an existing Ethernet-based network and be able to have File
and Printer sharing and Internet access work among both types of computers.
Although the product description describes connection only to high-speed Internet
access devices, you can use it with normal dialup routers too.
The product comes with the following items:
The bridge itself with omni directional antenna
External power adapter
UTP Crossover cable
Quick Start Guide
User's Manual (available in PDF format here
CD Rom containing the "Composer" installation
wizard, "Maestro" configuration tool and drivers.
Proxim lists the following System Requirements
An existing 10BaseT Ethernet network. (This can be with
or without an Internet access device.)
At least one Symphony wireless network card installed
in a Win 95/98 PC (which must have at least a 486/66 processor, 16MB
of RAM, 10MB of free hard drive space and a CDROM drive).
The bridge is a small black box, measuring about 3.25 in W X 5.25 in
D X 1.25 in H. A small (approx 3 in) antenna comes attached to the
front of the unit. It's attached via a BNC-like connector, but the
antenna screws on instead of having a 1/4 turn twist quick disconnect.
Installation was very smooth and I didn't even need to consult the very detailed
User Manual until after I was already surfing the Internet via my Symphony-PC-Card-connected
laptop. The Bridge is preconfigured to be a DHCP client and perform both
NAT routing and "Transparent Bridging" (more on this later) between
the Ethernet and wireless LANs. Proxim figures that this configuration
will work with most network and ISP combinations and it worked fine for me.
You can change these settings, but only via the "Maestro" configuration
tool that is installed with a Symphony network card.
If you are installing your Symphony network from scratch, the supplied Quick
Start card instructs you to install the Bridge first, so that's what I did.
All you do is plug in its external power adapter and then connect it to your
existing LAN. NOTE that your LAN must support 10BaseT
connections. Proxim supplies a short "crossover" cable that
you may or may not be able to use, depending on what you are connecting into
(this is explained clearly in the User Guide). I connected the Bridge
into a UMAX UGateII dialup router which has a built-in 4 port 10BaseT
hub. Since the UGATE II hub contains an uplink port, I used a normal
UTP cable connected from the UGateII uplink port to the Bridge. Again,
you may have to experiment with the type of cable you use, but you'll know when
you're connected correctly... just look for the lit Link lights on the Bridge
and the device that you're connecting to.
With the Bridge plugged in, I installed a Symphony Cordless PC card
into my Win98 laptop (400MHz AMD K-6, 64Mb memory). This went smoothly and after
the third reboot, I launched my web browser and was rewarded with my normal
Home page! I then checked Network Neighborhood and saw my other PCs' shared
drives and printers. Pretty slick!
with a few things to watch out for!
Although my installation went very smoothly, there are a few things that
you may need to pay attention to, depending on how your network is configured
and how you are connected to the Internet:
Which Bridge configuration to use
Section 6 of the User Manual (Configuring a Symphony Network) does a
good job of describing the conditions that may cause you to change the
Bridge from its default mode of both NAT routing and "Transparent
In my case, since the UGateII router was handling Internet access and
NAT routing, I changed the Bridge to Transparent Bridging only (the
second selection). This got rid of the 10.0.0.X subnet that the
Bridge's NAT router had assigned to the wireless cards. I then
had to reconfigure the TCP/IP settings on the Symphony PC card so that
it was a DHCP client of the UGateII. When I was done, I
had File and Printer sharing and Internet access working among
all machines, using only the TCP/IP protocol.
If this sounds like too much trouble, you could leave the Bridge configuration
alone and just add the NetBeui protocol to all machines on the network.
How many computers on your LAN
This should not be an issue in small networks, but Proxim says that
the Bridge can only support 8 devices on its Ethernet
port. The number of Symphony wireless nodes is limited
The installer adds and configures TCP/IP (and some proprietary Symphony
protocols) but does not add NetBeui or IPX/SPX protocols unless you
already have either protocol installed and bound to another network
card. In most any network configuration, you should be able to
get Internet access from both Ethernet and wireless nodes using TCP/IP
only. However, if you are adding wireless nodes to an existing
Ethernet network, you may need to add the NetBeui or IPX/SPX
protocols to all computers if you have problems seeing wireless computers
from wired ones (and vice-versa) in Network Neighborhood. Otherwise,
you'll have to change the operating mode of the Bridge as described
(NOTE: This ability to use the non-routable NetBeui and IPX/SPX
protocols is a nice benefit of using a Bridge instead of a Router
to handle a LAN with multiple subnets.)
Which drivers to use
The Quick Start and User guides have multiple warnings, but it's worth
mentioning that you need to use the drivers that come with the Bridge
to install any Symphony network cards. If you already have
a working Symphony network, Proxim provides an Upgrade utility so that
you don't have to uninstall the existing drivers.
One other small, but important item to note is that the installation
wizard walks you through setting up shared drives or folders, but sets
full permissions with no password on anything it sets up sharing
on and doesn't warn you that it is doing this. The User Manual does
mention password protecting shared resources, but I'd like to see either
a warning in the installer or a default of password protection.
I tested data transfer speed between a 10BaseT connected computer and
wireless computer and also from wireless to wireless computer. Although
it could be my imagination (or my test technique!) I reached the following
Data transfer is slower between wireless nodes when
operating through the Bridge vs. operating in "Peer-to-Peer"
mode, i.e. without the Bridge.
Transfer between wireless nodes is faster than transfer
between Ethernet and wireless nodes.
Here's the data I used to reach these conclusions. I used the same
5.30MB zipped file for each of the tests and rounded transfer rates to
the nearest 10kbps.
Desktop 1 [10BT] to Laptop [Wireless]
Desktop 1 to Desktop 2 [Wireless]
Laptop to Desktop 2
Desktop1 [Wireless] to Desktop 2 [Wireless]
1) A Symphony PCI card was added to "Desktop 1", its 10BaseT
connection was disconnected, the Bridge was powered down, and the regular
(non-Bridge) drivers were installed on Desktop 2 for the "Without
2) "Laptop"'s antenna was about 3 feet from the Bridge's antenna.
3) "Desktop 2"'s antenna was about 10 feet from the Bridge's
4) "Desktop 1" and "Desktop 2"'s antennas were located
about 10 feet apart.
This data says that you take a 60% hit in transfer speed when
operating wireless nodes through the bridge (vs. Peer-to-Peer)
and can lose up to 70% of transfer speed going between Ethernet
and wireless nodes.
The Bridge is easy to use and solves a problem that would otherwise
require fairly advanced networking skills. Although the cost is
probably more than you'd want to spend, it's significantly lower than
competitive products (which are geared toward corporate use).
It's clear that Proxim has put quality work into the Symphony product
line. The documentation is tops, the software is well done, the
support Web site contains useful information, and you even get a utility
that tells you something about the quality of your wireless connection
(something I'd like to see as standard for all wireless and maybe even
phoneline networking kits). Unfortunately, using the Bridge will slow
your Symphony network significantly, even if you aren't transferring data
between the wired and wireless portions of your network.