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Netgear FV318 Cable/DSL VPN Firewall Router and FR318 Cable/DSL Firewall Router

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 Author: Ronald Pacchiano
 Review Date: 12/14/2001

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Model: FV318 ($799 MSRP) and FR318 ($349 MSRP)

With so many SOHO routers on the market today it can sometimes be difficult to pick the right one for you. Sometimes the easiest way to make this decision is to first get a clear understanding of what your needs are. How many users are ultimately going to need access to it? What type of connection will you be using: DSL, Cable modem or ISDN. Is the protection of a firewall important to you? What about VPN support for remote users? Many routers today will perform most of these functions. However, if you need one router that will let your small business share its DSL or Cable modem connection with up to 45 users, provides solid firewall protection and gives you the ability to configure a secure VPN tunnel to a remote office or offsite users for relatively low cost, then the Netgear FR318 and FV318 Cable/DSL Routers with integrated firewall and VPN functionality could just be what you've been waiting for.

Pros:

VPN Capability
Detailed logging and alerts via email
Supports up to 45 users
Subscription based content filtering
Street prices are close to 1/2 the list price

Cons:

VPN Client is available only through 3rd party software
Can't control access or filtering by user

Setup

Getting started is straightforward. Once you've got PCs connected to one of the units, launch a browser and go to IP address 192.168.0.1. DHCP is enabled by default so your workstation should see the router right away (as long as it's set to automatically obtain an IP address). Once connected, the router's configuration wizard will start automatically.

Next choose your password and time zone. Specify your Internet connection type (Static IP, Dynamic IP, or PPPoE ), enter your Host and Domain name, restart your router and all PCs on the LAN, and you should be ready to browse the Web

Basic Features

in the number of VPN tunnels they provide (more on that later). Both are based on a NetARM RISC processor and provide Internet Access Sharing capability through an integrated 10/100 8-port switch. Auto-sensing ports let the unit detect your connection speed automatically and remove the need for a crossover/straight through switch. The FR318 can share your Internet connection with up to 8 users. Up to 20 users could share that same connection when using the FV318 linked to another switch. If your network needs continue to grow, both routers could be upgraded to support as many as 45 users. Again, the built-in DHCP capabilities let the router handle all of the client IP assignments.

A router is useless if it doesn't know how to talk with other routers so the 318s support a variety of routing protocols including TCP/IP, RIP-1, RIP-2, PPPoE, and PPTP. For added security the 318s also support IPSec and Network Address Translation (NAT) routing. Encryption is key in preventing data interception and the 318's come with a powerful set of security protocols; Digital Encryption Standard (DES), Internet Key Exchange (IKE) and Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI). SPI continuously examines incoming data packets and is pivotal in defending against Denial of Service (DoS) attacks such as Ping of Death, SYN flood attacks and Teardrop. The 318's also supports 168-bit TripleDES (3DES), arguably one of the strongest commercially available encryption algorithms on the market today.

Small business network administrators will like the two products' logging and reporting capabilities. The router reports on what Web sites have been visited and how much bandwidth is being used on a per service basis (HTTP, DNS, ICMP, etc.) or by IP address usage. Logs can be configured to collect data on anything from System Errors, blocked Web sites, dropped TCP connections and even network attacks. If desired, the router can notify the administrator of these events by e-mail.

Other options available are time-of-day usage limits and the ability to restrict access to Web sites of questionable content by either keyword or through the CyberNOT subscription service. Specific features like ActiveX, Java and cookies can be blocked. Blocking those components made a big difference when browsing sites associated with Web-rings. Pop up windows were noticeably decreased and made browsing the Web a much more enjoyable experience. Until recently, many of these features were only available in high-end routers.

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