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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Linksys WAP11 Instant Wireless Network Access Point
Author: Tim Higgins Review Date: 8/4/2001
- Can be setup via USB or Ethernet - Decent speed
- Windows only administration - No LAN activity monitoring utilities
6/26/01 Version 1.4f update removed due to i.nstallation and functional problems. Corrected antenna type to RP-TNC
6/23/01 Version 1.4f update adds Wireless Bridging, MAC address filtering, and 128 bit WEP encryption. Download from the Linksys FTP site [link removed]. New version of WAP11 Utility, too, which you can download here.
5/2/01 Added antenna connector info
1/20/01 The WAP11 will not work with a 100Mbps only hub or switch. You must use either a 10Mbps or 10/100 autosensing product with it.
No, it's not a Linksys router that's sprouted ears, it's the WAP11, or as we call it around PracticallyNetworked, "Wappy". This latest of Linksys' little purple and gray boxes can add 802.11b wireless capability to your Ethernet based LAN and free you to surf the net with your laptop from the patio, pool, or your favorite chair. But how fast does it really go? And do those "rabbit ear" antennas pick up TV too? We'll soon find out...
A few surprises
Although it hasn't been mentioned in any of the marketing material, Wappy seems to have sprouted a USB "Type B" (square) port! The connector is marked "Configuration Port" and can only be used to configure Wappy and not to provide a network connection to your computer.
The second surprise is that Wappy has a static IP address of 192.168.1.250, making it a little more difficult to set up than if it were set up to grab an address from a DHCP server. You can change the IP address, but you don't have the option of telling Wappy to be a DHCP client.
Update 1/20/01 A third surprise is that the Ethernet port will not work with 100Mbps only products. So be sure to use either a 10Mbps or 10/100 autosensing hub or switch connected to the Ethernet port.
With those discoveries out of the way, let's set it up!
Bringing up Wappy
Both the DFU Utility (used with the USB configuration port) and the Access Point SNMP Manager (used with the Ethernet port) give you equal setup capability. You can even run both at once, since there's no login and no checking for multiple admin access. The screen shots below show what you can do (click on them for a full-sized view).
These utilities are Windows only however, and there is no Web or Telnet interface. So you'll need to run Win98, ME, or 2000 if you want to setup via USB, or Win 95, 98, NT4, ME, or 2000 if you choose SNMP based configuration.
The User Guide doesn't mention that the IP address of the computer that you're running the SNMP Manager on must have an IP address in the 192.168.1.X subnet. So to avoid trouble, make it so before you run the SNMP manager.
The User Guide also has few errors in the locations where it tells you to look for installation files, so you'll need to browse around a little to find things.
Once you launch either utility and connect, you'll find that the admin screens give you access to all the basic settings you'll need to get your access point up and working. Wappy supports 40 bit (also known as 64 bit...see an explanation here) WEP encryption, but it's turned off by default. Linksys does a better job than some vendors in trying to use standard terminology for the "knobs" on Wappy and the User Guide even has some decent explanations for some of the 802.11b terms in its Troubleshooting section. I was able to get it working with an SMC client PC card fairly quickly and only had to change the default channel and "Workgroup" (ESSID) names.
Wappy and its companion WPC11 Instant Wireless PC cardare not shipped with compatible channel or ESSID names. So at minimum, you'll have to change the settings on one or the other so that they're the same. Neither manual tells you to do this, however!
Although Wappy covers the setup basics, it's lacking in any network monitoring capabilities. You have no way of knowing:
How many clients are using the network or who they are
The throughput numbers are the highest that I've tested so far, and I was a little suspicious that Qcheck was being too optimistic. So I also tried timing some large file (approx 20MByte) transfers and measured between 38 and 41 seconds for a 19.2MByte file, which equates to a throughput between 3.8 and 4.0Mbps. Very respectable. I have no explanation for why Condition 3 gave the worst performance... it's usually Condition 4 that most products have problems with.
If you were expecting a breakthrough product similar to Linksys' EtherFast router, then you may be disappointed in Wappy. Although it has very good speed, and is relatively simple to set up, at $235 (on-line pricing at the time of this review) it's not as aggressively priced relative to the competition as Linky (the router) was. It also lacks network monitoring capabilities, and can be set up and managed only via a Windows machine.
Remember also that you'll need to also purchase a router or already have one for Internet sharing... Wappy's only a bridge, not a router (see an explanation here).
Don't get me wrong, it's a good product and I'm sure it will be a big hit for Linksys, given their wide availability and marketing muscle. It just doesn't have anything that makes it stand apart from the rest of the 802.11b wireless Access Point pack.