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Nexland Pro400 Internet Security Appliance

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 Author: Tim Higgins
 Review Date: 4/3/2001

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Model: PRO 400

Pros:

- Very flexible VPN pass-thru handling
- Auto failover to backup serial port

Cons:

- Access to logs requires SNMPv1 tools (not provided)
- Awkward firmware upgrade and configuration backup procedures


Review Updates

4/4/01 Added RIP2 and L2TP info

 

The Basics

Indicators

Top Panel

  • Backup Active

  • WAN Active

  • PPPoE Active

  • WAN Tx/Rx

  • LAN Tx/Rx - Error

Rear Panel

  • WAN Link/Activity

  • 100 Link/Activity for each of 4 ports

  • 10 Link/Activity for each of 4 ports

  • Duplex for each of 4 ports

 

Connectors
  • One RJ45 10BaseT for the WAN

  • Four switched RJ45 auto sensing 10/100BaseT LAN

  • One DB9M serial port

  • Power

Comes with
  • printed "Quick Start" guide

  • printed User Manual

  • null-modem Serial cable

  • CD with manual, browser, & utilities

  • one normal UTP cable

  • 120VAC Power supply

Other
  • Has Reset switch

  • NO Uplink or Normal / Crossover switch for LAN Ports (see this page for more info)

  • 4 dipswitches

 

Introduction


Nexland's PRO400 is a 4 port 10/100 switched router with strong VPN passthru capabilities, and a number of features that people who run Internet accessible servers on their LANs will appreciate.  I found it to be a pretty solid box, but not without a few little quirks...

 

Setting up


The PRO400 has browser based administration, with the admin server located at 192.168.0.1.  Its internal LAN DHCP server comes enabled, so you just attach a computer set to be a DHCP client (obtain IP address automatically), either reboot or do a DHCP Release/Renew, fire up your web browser, enter the IP address above and you'll be in business.

Most users will need to access only the Main Setup page to get on the air.  This page allows you to set being a DHCP client, or enter PPPoE login info.  Host and Domain names are supported for @Home users, and the WAN MAC address can be set to whatever you like for those users who need this ability.  If you have a static IP, you just go to a second screen to enter that info.


Nexland PRO400 - Main Setup screen

Nexland PRO400 - Advanced PPPoE screen


The Status screen gives you an overview of the PRO400's setup. The "Disconnected" Connection Status indication shown in this screen shot was somewhat confusing, given that I was successfully connected to the Internet at the time!  A check with Nexland revealed the error to be due to my test setup (I test all routers behind my LAN master router, and it wasn't responding to the "Are you alive" test that the PRO400 uses to determine whether to trigger the analog backup port), but will be corrected in a future firmware release.

Nexland PRO400 - Status screen

The PRO400 has a serial port that supports an auto-backup feature.  If the Ethernet-based WAN connection goes down, the PRO400 will automatically trigger a session via the dialup or ISDN device attached to it and get you back on the air.  When your broadband connection comes back up, it will drop the dialup/ISDN connection and switch back over to it.

Tip: If you want to use a dialup or ISDN connection as your primary network connection, that's fine, too.  Just don't connect anything to the WAN port and check the "Enable" box on the Backup/Analog/ISDN page.

 

Feature set


Port Mapping: 
The PRO400 has a rich feature set, with plenty of ways to forward ports through its firewall.  Check the router chart and screen shots for the details, and you'll see both static port and port range mapping and triggered port range mapping ("Special Applications").  WAN "Loopback" is even supported on all LAN machines, except for the machine that is running the server that you're trying to reach.

Nexland PRO400 - Virtual Servers screen   Nexland PRO400 - Custom Virtual Servers screen

Nexland PRO400 - Special Applications screen


It also has the ability to identify LAN machines by MAC address and reserve IP addresses in the LAN DHCP table, assign the machine to an Access (port filter) group, and bind it to a specific PPPoE session (only useful with multi-session PPPoE accounts).

Nexland PRO400 - Host IP & Group screen


Access Filters: 
If you need to control who has access to what services on your LAN, the PRO400 provides a full range of port filters.  You can choose from a selection of pre-made filters or roll your own TCP or UDP filters.

Nexland PRO400 - Access Filters screen

Other stuff:
Advanced users will appreciate a few other features that Nexland's included in the PRO400.  There's a built-in Dynamic DNS client that will work with your DynamicDNS provider of choice (go here for more info) so that you don't have to run any client software on any of your LAN machines.

The ability to set Static Routes is useful for using the PRO400 in multiple-router LANs.  The RIP2 dynamic routing protocol is also supported, but can't be disabled.

Finally, the adventurous user may want to explore the Expert Level screen shown below.

Nexland PRO400 - Expert Level screen

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