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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ORiNOCO PC Card Gold
Author: Tim Higgins Review Date: 7/17/2001
- 64 and 128 bit WEP encryption
- Good performance vs. range
- Excellent client utility with profiles and helpful signal strength
- 20% throughput decrease with WEP enabled.
Corrected Antenna connector info.
Driver and Utility CD
Printed "Getting Started" Guide
Agere Systems (formerly Lucent)
Fixed position non-removable antenna
Has connector for attaching external antenna
ORiNOCO's client products have a reputation for not disappointing
purchasers and after putting the PC Card Gold through its paces,
I have to agree...
The PC Card uses the Agere Systems chip set (formerly Lucent
Technologies), and has a fixed position, non-removable antenna.
The antenna has a "hump" that would interfere with a
card next to it, so you'll probably need to put it into the top
PCMCIA slot of your laptop. The card has two LEDs which
indicate card power and wireless LAN activity. There's also a
removable cover on the end of the card's antenna hump that conceals
a small antenna connector.
Update 7/23/01 The Antenna
connector type is proprietary to ORiNOCO. See
this page for information on obtaining adapters.
If you want to add desktop clients that don't have PCMCIA card
slots to your wireless network, ORiNOCO has both ISA-to-PCMCIA
and PCI-to-PCMCIA adapter cards available. However, you
need to buy both the PC Card LAN card and the adapter of
your choice, raising the cost of adding a wireless station by
$50 to $60 over just the cost of the PC Card itself. You'd
be better off using the USB Gold adapter, since you don't have
to crack open your PC's case to install it. See the
USB Gold's review if you want more info.
There are PC Card drivers for a wide range of OSes, including
the usual Win 95/98/NT/Me/CE/2000 plus MS-DOS, Linux, and MacOs.
NetWare users will have to go elsewhere for their LAN card needs,
however, since there's no driver for them.
Driver installation went smoothly on my Win98SE Compaq 1650 laptop.
I inserted the PC card into the laptop, Plug & Play detected
the card and installed the drivers. During the driver install,
a Configuration profile Edit screen (see below) will come up,
which you need to complete correctly or your card won't be able
to communicate with the wireless network. A popup screen
near the end of the driver install will tell you to install the
Client Manager, but doesn't start the install.
The ORiNOCO client products have perhaps the best set of Client
utilities of any of the products I've tested. They're so
good, that I recently standardized on using the Gold PC card for
all my Access Point and Wireless Router testing.
The Client Manager is a System Tray application used to monitor
the wireless link quality and set connection parameters (see the
screen shots below). The CM's System Tray icon (not shown
below) is similar to a cell phone signal indicator, dynamically
showing the number of "bars" of signal. Putting
the cursor over the icon gives you a reading of signal "Condition"
and the bandwidth mode currently being used, so you can get just
about all the information you need about the signal state without
opening the CM Window. Check out the screen shots below
to get a feel for the CM. (click on any image to open another
window with a full-sized view)
The CM window opened from the System Tray
The Add/Edit Config screen lets you establish
up to four different Configuration profiles, which can:
choose between Residential Gateway (the
RG-1000), Peer-to-Peer, and Access Point modes
enable/disable Encryption and set a
set a Network name
NOTE: Your network name may be different!
Each of these options is clearly explained in the
You choose the encryption level by the length of the
key you enter.
The Link test and Site Monitor utilities are probably
the best I've seen yet. They actually give you signal, noise
and signal-to-noise readings. The Link Test Test History
view shows a nice little plot over time and readings can be saved
to a log file. The Site Monitor feature lets you monitor
multiple wireless stations, sorted by various parameters.
You can also run a card diagnostic from the CM.
Link Test window
Link Test - Test History
Site Monitor window
Despite all these goodies, there are a few things you should be aware of. You
can't set the data rate in any mode, and the settings in Peer-to-Peer
mode are very basic. About all you can do is set a network name, enable/disable
Encryption and enter ONE WEP key. ORiNOCO is clearly biased toward using
the clients in an Infrastructure, (Access Point) based network.
Comments: The data shows consistent throughput
performance over the tested range, except for Condition 4, where
the SNR is causing the link speed to adjust downward.
SNR readings for Conditions 2 through 4 were lower
than measured for the USB
Gold, and got low enough to impact transfer speed
for Condition 4. This is a direct result of the better
antenna orientation (vertical vs. horizontal) and placement
of the USB's antenna vs. the PC card's.
I found an approximately 20% throughput degradation with
either 64 bit WEP encryption applied. Not as bad as the 50% I typically
find, but not the 0 to 5% found with some products either!
As I said at the top of this review, ORiNOCO's reputation as a provider of
solidly performing 802.11b clients is well deserved. The PC Card Gold
provides solid performance and excellent utilities. Although you won't
find the PC Card Gold breaking the under $100 price point any time soon, ORiNOCO
has adjusted prices downward on pretty much their entire 802.11b line to track
the market, although at a slight premium.
UPDATE 12/16/01: Recently
this card has been seen online several places for less than $100.
So with all this good stuff, how could I not give the
ORiNOCO PC Card Gold a PracticallyRecommended? So I did!