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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Hamachi 2 Sports New Features and a Steep Price Tag for Businesses
Author: Joe Moran Review Date: 10/15/2009
Price: Freefor non-commercial use, $199 annually
for commercial use
Pros: simple setup,
new network topologies and centralized management, free for non-commercial use
only;commercial version much
pricier than predecessor
Ever since it debuted as a beta over three years ago, Hamachi (subsequently purchased
by LogMeIn) has provided a quick, easy, and usually free way to set up secure VPN
connections between distant systems without any special hardware or much in the way of
firewall/NAT-related configuration hassles. Hamachi2, the first major update
to the software, retains most of the the characteristics that made the original so
popular while offering an enhancements like a refreshed user interface, additional
network topology options, and the ability to create and manage networks remotely.
Hamachi2 is compatible with all versions of Windows from 2000 through
Windows 7, including Windows Server 200x. (We tested it with a mix of XP, Vista, and
Windows 7 clients.) While Hamachi 1.0 included Mac and Linux -- albeit command line
only—versions, Hamachi2 is Windows only, at least for the time being.
The software is downloadable here;
access to centralized network management as well as topologies beyond the standard mesh
requires creating a LogMeIn account, but you can register a free one for Hamachi without
being a subscriber to one of the company's myriad other services.
Like its predecessor, Hamachi2 isn't autonomous VPN software, but rather a
hosted VPN service. LogMeIn maintains servers to authenticate systems mediate secure
links (256-bit AES encrypted) between Hamachi network members, which is what helps make
it relatively adept at fire/NAT traversal. Data, on the other hand, is transmitted
directly over secure links between clients, except in certain cases—LogMeIn says
roughly 5 percent-- where direct connections can't be established and data must instead be relayed by the mediation servers.
When using Hamachi2 sans a LogMeIn account, the software works much like
the prior version did save for the reworked interface. The UI is still Spartan, but it's
also cleaner and more logically organized than before—configuration options are
available via a conventional tabbed interface instead of behind tiny buttons. Installing
Hamachi2 sets up a virtual network adapter, which you can then use to create a
secure mesh network (via the 5.x.x.x IP address space) with little more than a few clicks
and creating unique network name and common password. In this scenario, all network
configuration chores are handled directly through the Hamachi software.
(Note to Hamachi 1.0 users: the built-in update feature will not report the existence
Hamachi 2, but if you manually install the latter over the former existing networks and
configuration settings are retained.)
Have Account, Will Travel
Using Hamachi with a LogMeIn account really kicks the software's capabilities up a
notch, starting with the ability to administer your network(s) from anywhere, and create
networks other than the standard mesh topology (where all network nodes are linked to all
others). By using the LogMeIn Web site to create a network rather than the Hamachi
software itself, you can set up hub-and-spoke networks for greater control over
connections-- nodes (the spokes) link only to those designated as hubs, and not to each
other. You can also opt for a gateway topology, which uses your LAN's IP addressing
scheme rather than the dedicated 5.x.x.x range. This makes it possible to access
networked resources beyond just those on the system running the Hamachi software, though
for security reasons, you can't use a workstation that's a member of a domain as a
Upon setting up a network you can install the Hamachi software directly to the local
system, or set up network members remotely by creating customized links (for delivery
over e-mail or other means) that will automatically download the Hamachi software and
join a specific network. Other centralized management options include the ability to
prevent nodes from leaving the network and to disable configuration options in the
Hamachi software UI so network members can't create or join their own Hamachi networks.
Irrespective of the network type, Hamachi networks are limited to 16 members, though
systems can be members of multiple networks (unless it's a gateway, in which case it's
limited to one).
Still Free, but More Expensive
Like its predecessor, Hamachi2 remains free for personal and non-commercial
use. On the other hand, the commercial license version (which supports networks with 256
members instead of just 16) is now $199 for a one-year subscription, compared to just
$39.95 for Hamachi 1.x. (That works out to more than $16 a month.) There's also a
whopping $33 month-to-month payment option, which is only cost-effective only if you need
five months of service or less.
Hamachi's long been an excellent way to set up quick secure links on an as-needed
basis for casual purposes like gaming, and media streaming. Notwithstanding the fivefold
price hike for the commercial version, Hamachi2's additional network options
and centralized management now make it a viable option for small businesses that want to
set up a VPN for remote access, etc. while keeping the expense and technical headaches to