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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BlueGear Bluetooth Networking Kit
Author: Lonny R. Paul Review Date: 4/26/2002
Model Number: b091h1
Don’t need a full-blown WLAN and want the convenience of a penknife-sized device
for a wireless connection? The BlueGear Bluetooth adapter from Amazing Technology
may be your answer. BlueGear provides a simple one-package solution for $129
to connect two machines in a “Personal Area Network” (PAN).
Small form factor of adapter
Easy setup in less than 10 minutes
Great security features
Two adapter per package
Low throughput rate
BlueGear has a complete solution in one small box for someone who occasionally
would like to casually network two computers. This is a great setup for someone
with a laptop that's frequently off-site and only needs to transfer files or
sync with their primary desktop now and then.
These small Bluetooth units are two miniature USB adapters no larger than the
average penknife, and half as thick. Data transfer rates of 1Mbps and complete
passkey security allow for a secure connection. The installation software provided
fulfills all the needed tasks, aside from the brief configuration of your “server”
to provide extended network access or share an existing Internet connection.
A total of eight devices can be connected to your Bluetooth network. The kit
also includes two handy USB extension cables and a clip to hang the adapter
on your notebook.
Installation of the b091h1 adapter is pretty straightforward. First install
the CD prior to plugging in the USB adapter. A standard setup application installs
two different programs: PAN (Personal Area Network Manager) and the BlueGear
Home IP Locator, which is only required for use on the “server” PC.
After installation, and a reboot, you are prompted to configure your Internet
connection sharing via the Home IP Locator application. Simply choose the LAN
connection on your PC providing internet service, click the “Change to Server”
icon, and start the service.
Even if your connection is via America Online or some other dialup service,
you are able to access the internet by defining a WAN (PPP/SLIP) connection.
At this point you can exit the application, as you will no longer need to make
any adjustments to it.
A small blue star icon in the system tray indicates that the PAN application
is running. PAN runs in the background for connectivity management of the BlueGear
network. For first time use, simply right click on this icon to define your
options, and if you desire, allow users to connect to your network.
The options in PAN provided on the first screen are simply an option to modify
your “passkey”, allow access to an outside network (called “NAP”), allowing
for connection to non-Bluetooth devices connected through another network connection
present on the “server” PC, and an advanced button.
The Advanced menu is divided into three sections:
SECURITY: You can define either “no security” or “security for each device.”
If security is enabled, you may choose to apply encryption as well. You can
completely disallow connections to the unit or even “hide” the server from
others who may be searching for a Bluetooth connection.
OPTIMIZATION: This screen allows for “manual” or “automatic” scanning to
determine available connections. You will be required to search if you are,
for example, at a friend’s house and want to print something on their Bluetooth-enabled
printer. A device shortcut can also be identified by MAC address and device
name to allow common connections to be easily accessible within your connections
list. A final option is provided to connect to the most recent network upon
BLUETOOTH DEVICE: This menu simply provides for defining the role of your
device as a “master,” “slave,” or function as both. As an example, you would
be a slave printing to a printer, however a master as well if you were providing
internet connectivity to another laptop.
An additional “right click” on the PAN star icon will allow you to identify
connected users and disconnect them if you wish.
On the client device, once you have scanned for a network, you simply click
on the selected device, click on connect and are prompted for your “passkey.”
This provides for user authentication on the network. Once you have connected,
you should immediately be able to share files, printers and internet service.
The blue star spinning in your system tray indicates connection to the network.
(Printer and file sharing are dependant on the properties defined in your Windows
operating system and do not require any additional configuration from within
the BlueGear application.)
Two manuals are included in the package, however a simple two-sided yellow
sheet folded over the installation CD provides step-by-step instructions. It
wasn’t necessary to even consult the documentation for reference, however the
User’s Manual provides great screen shots of every step along the way, including
those for individuals not familiar with Windows needing to configure their network
or share files and printers. The “BlueGear Q&A” booklet also provides answers
to many questions novices may ask.
After getting the unit set up, the connection is indicated by the blue star
icon rotating in your system tray. First a 7.7MB file was downloaded from the
internet, with an elapsed time of 4 minutes 11 seconds and download speed of
31.3 kbps. I was also impressed with the seamless ability to browse the complete
network (with “NAP” activated) – systems both on the BlueGear network as well
as wired and wireless clients.
In actual speed testing, TCP transfer rates were obtained from three different
distances. The first was approximately 5 feet away in the same room. In this
test, the throughput was averaged at 332.862 kbps. For the next test, the unit
was approximately 15 feet away, on the opposite side of a concrete wall. Throughput
at this distance was 231.074 kbps.
In the final test, the unit was approximately 35 feet away with several concrete
walls between. In this test, the throughput dropped to 30.114 kbps.
Although the marketing materials and product documentation state a range of
264 feet, at approximately 55 feet (with several walls) the connection was lost.
Security and encryption options are provided within the application; however
encryption technologies are not explained in detail within any product documentation.
Enabling the encryption did not alter the throughput speed between the devices.
For occasionally printing from a notebook, connecting to a PDA or cell phone,
or syncing with a desktop and utilizing local network resources – this b091h1
adapter package has great value and works like a charm. The setup is easy and
straightforward and internet connectivity works great -- within a close proximity.
BlueGear provides a simple solution for most users of the Bluetooth technology.
Individuals looking for greater range will need to explore 802.11b connectivity.
Overall, achieving Bluetooth for short-range connections has never been easier
for PC users. The small size of the adapters provides for ultra-portability
and the setup won’t take you more than 10 minutes.
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