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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Review: Netgear 3G Mobile Broadband Wireless Router (MBR624GU)
Author: Joe Moran Review Date: 6/25/2009
Price: $110 (MSRP) Pros: inexpensive; easy to set up; works with both EV-DO and UTMS/HSDPA
modems Cons: doesn't support CardBus/ExpressCard modems or tethered phones (yet);
Wi-Fi hotspots are seemingly everywhere these days, but only seemingly, because there
are still plenty of places where Wi-Fi isn't within easy reach. That's why many people
rely on a 3G cellular data connection as a Plan B, but while plugging a 3G modem into
your laptop will get you on the Internet, it's not much use the co-workers,
friends, or family you're travelling with, unless you can manage to share the
That's where Netgear's 3G Mobile Mobile Broadband Wireless Router (MBR624GU) comes in.
This $110 (MSRP) device will make your 3G modem's data connection available to others via
802.11 g/b Wi-Fi, essentially letting you set up an impromptu wireless hotspot whenever
you need one.
The MBR624GU measures 6.9 x 1.1 x 4.7 and uses Netgear's familiar rounded-rectangle
design with a standard flip-up mast antenna rather than the internal variety that's
increasingly commonplace these days. The MBR624GU isn't especially large by the standards
of a conventional broadband router, but neither is it as compact and travel-friendly as
some other 3G wireless routers like those from CradlePoint Technology or
the new Verizon
Aside from a USB port to plug in your 3G modem, the MBR624GU gives you four LAN ports
for connecting PCs. That's arguably three more than necessary for a device ostensibly
intended to deliver wireless rather than wired access, and since there's no WAN port
provided, you don't have the option to use the MBR624GU with standard DSL/cable modem
The MBR624GU works with about a dozen EV-DO or UMTS/HSDPA modems from three domestic
carriers: AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon. Note that this doesn't include Alltel, which,
though now owned by Verizon, still uses different modem hardware than its parent. (You
can view the MBR624GU's modem compatibility list here.)
Since the MBR624GU lacks a Cardbus or ExpressCard slot, it can't accommodate
card-based modems. Moreover, the router's USB port only works with stand-alone modems, so
you can't use your 3G phone as a modem with it even if your phone and carrier support
such "tethering." (Netgear says that support for phone tethering is on the horizon.) On
the plus side, we appreciate the MBR624GU's inclusion of a three foot USB extension cable
with a weighted base, which lets you position your modem some distance from the router if
necessary for optimal signal strength.
Setup and configuration
We found getting up and running with the MBR624GU quite simple. Within about two
minutes of turning on the router (it includes a power button so you switch the unit on or
off without unplugging it) it automatically recognized the attached Verizon/Novatel
Ovation USB727 modem, used it to establish a connection to Verizon's 3G network, and
began broadcasting its Wi-Fi signal. An indicator light on the front of the MBR624GU
makes it easy to see the status of the Internet connection at a glance-it glows green if
the modem is linked to its 3G network, red if it's not.
If your carrier requires a username and password to log on to its data network, you
can save the information via the MBR624GU's administration control panel, which you'll
also need to visit if you want to change any of the router's default settings (to turn on
wireless security, for example). From the browser-based control panel you'll find most of
the same configurable options that are available on a standard consumer-level router,
though one feature that's missing is the ability to do incoming port forwarding (most
people likely won't miss it, however).
The MBR624GU is configurable for native g or mixed b/g mode and supports all typical
wireless encryption methods including WPA and WPA2 with a Pre-Shared Key (PSK) or 802.1x
authentication. If your wireless clients support, it you can take advantage of simplified
connecting with WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup), which worked flawlessly when we tried it
with a Vista laptop. From the control panel you can enable a wireless isolation feature
to ensure that connected systems can reach the Internet but not each other. A button on
the side of the MBR624GU conveniently lets you turn off the Wi-Fi radio and still leave
the LAN ports active.
For the time being you can only use the MBR624GU within proximity of a wall outlet, as
it lacks mobility-enhancing accessories, such as a car power adapter or battery pack.
Netgear says the former will be available next month, while the latter should be out by
the end of the year.
In our time with the MBR624U, we had no difficulties acquiring a strong Wi-Fi signal
from nearly fifty feet away and through multiple walls. An Internet connection test at
Speedtest.net reported speeds in excess of 1.5 Mbps downstream and almost 500 kbps
upstream, which is the maximum performance the USB727 modem is capable of delivering.
The MGR624GU doesn't have the compactness or wide modem compatibility of some other 3G
routers, but it carries a price tag roughly half that of its competitors, making it one
of the least expensive units you can buy. If you can live with the limitations, the
MBR624GU should serve you well.
Joseph Moran is a veteran technology journalist and frequent contributor to Wi-Fi
Planet. He is based in Florida.