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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Microsoft Windows Home Server
If you have a home network, you'll welcome the easy file sharing, remote access and the image-based backup features of Windows Home Server.
MikroTik's The Dude
This free tool delivers many of the same capabilities that you'd find in pricey network monitoring tools. As long as you don't mind tinkering, The Dude is a decent network utility that should be worth the download.
ZoomAir Software Access Point
Author: Tim Higgins Review Date: 2/8/2001
- Comes with 25 user version of Sygate software NAT
- Poor monitoring tools
- Works with PRISMII cards only
- Windows only
ain't pretty, but it works!
That about sums up how I feel about Zoom's ZoomAir Software Access Point
(SWAP). It'll get the job done, actually better than a dedicated
hardware Access Point in some cases. But I wish that it looked a
little more polished and had more features, so that you'd at least think
about using it instead of a hardware Access Point.
The SWAP software actually is included on the CD that comes with every
ZoomAir product. But the Key Disk (floppy) that you need to enable
the software is what you get in the ZoomAir SWAP's box. I had previously
installed a ZoomAir PCI card in my trusty Pentium 166 desktop running
Win98 and it was working fine. The first thing that the SWAP installer
told me was that it had to uninstall the card drivers and install new
ones. I told it to go ahead and nervously watched as the various
screens flashed by to inform me of the progress that the uninstaller was
making as it tore into my Network settings. I was relieved when
it finished without crashing and rebooted the machine. Since the
drivers had been removed, Windows Plug-and-Play detected the "new"
hardware and launched the Driver Installation Wizard.
Tip: It took me a
couple of installation attempts to learn that you need to guide the
driver installation wizard to the "AP" folder on the
ZoomAir CD, NOT the "Client" folder, when you're installing
the SWAP software. (Of course if I had read the manual carefully,
I could have saved myself some time...)
After I finally got the correct drivers loaded, I ran the SWAP installer
again, which this time was happy with the drivers and prompted me to insert
the Key Disk floppy, so that it knew I was legal. After it finished
loading, I rebooted again. When the desktop came up, there was a
new icon in the System Tray, the Access Point Configuration Utility.
Tip: Don't get nervous
if you look at your Network properties after you install the SWAP and
can't find the TCP/IP protocol for your Ethernet card, or find your
Ethernet card missing when you run winipcfg or ipconfig. SWAP
works its magic by installing a few protocols of its own that take the
place of the normal Ethernet TCP/IP stack.
I tried installing SWAP on a WinMe machine, but never could get it to
even load the drivers for the card. The Version 2.51 drivers on
Web site didn't help either!
can it do?
When it's installed, SWAP looks like our old friend the Neesus
Datacom Client Configuration Utility that's included with many Intersil
PRISM based 802.11b cards. This version of the Utility has a few
different "knobs" than the usual Client utility, and its Mode
is fixed to Access Point (AP). You can see just about all there
is to see in the utility in the screen shots below (click to see a full-sized
view of them).
The utility doesn't have either the Link Quality or Signal
Strength indicators that the normal version of the Utility has.
There is no documentation specific to the SWAP. The printed
and PDF manuals are the same and describe the Client form of the Configuration
utility only. So if you don't know what Beacon and DTIM period
are, you won't find out from Zoom!
Like many of its inexpensive hardware Access Point siblings, the SWAP
doesn't have any features that allow you to monitor any of the wireless
clients attached to the SWAP. You also can't control wireless client
access, or filter any data or ports to control which services are accessed.
The good news is that the SWAP comes with a 25 user license for Sygate
(Version 3.11). This lets you add the ability to share your
Internet connection for both your Ethernet and wireless clients, something
that hardware Access Points can't do. I'm familiar with Sygate (it's
what I recommend for software sharing) so I didn't install or test it.
If you want more info, read the ServerWatch
review. The SWAP is also one of the few inexpensive AP's
that will support 128bit WEP encryption.
Since I was just testing the SWAP's performance, I ran the QCheck
test suite under best-case conditions only. No distance testing
(Tests run with 1.22 AP firmware, Auto Tx rate)
[1Mbyte data size]
[10 iterations 100byte data size]
Wireless Client to AP, WEP disabled
Wireless Client to Ethernet Client, WEP disabled
Wireless Client to Ethernet Client, 128 bit WEP
The SWAP introduces a loss of about 1Mbps of wireless throughput.
But performance does not degrade with either 64 or 128bit WEP enabled.
So with hardware Access Points selling for $200-$250, why would you spend
$160 on one that requires you to use one of your computers, and spend
about another $100-150 on an 802.11 card? Well, if you already have
the radio card, you can save up to about 100 bucks by stealing
some of those CPU cycles that are probably going to waste any way.
And you actually get a Ethernet/Wireless router when you install
the 25 user version of Sygate (which alone would cost you over $150).
But in reality, the market for this product is limited, which is why
there are only two companies that I know of (Compaq's the other one) selling
an 802.11b software access point. And if you click on the Configuration
Utility's "About" tab, then click "Help", you'll see
that there's most likely only one!