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Nexland Pro100 Internet Security Box

 Author: Brien M. Posey
 Review Date: 9/26/2002

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The Nexland Pro 100 Internet Security Box is a very basic product for sharing an Internet connection while providing firewall capabilities. While the unit is designed to merely cover the basics, it does have a few nice extras, such as the ability to automatically establish a dial up connection to an ISP should the broadband connection fail.

Pros

  • Option to back up the configuration
  • Analog or ISDN modem backup in the event that primary WAN connection fails
  • Supports user level and debugging level logging

Cons

  • Only a single L2TP session is supported
  • Supports only a single DMZ
  • No wireless support

BASIC FEATURES

The Nexland Pro 100 offers most of the basic features that you expect to find on a mid-grade Internet connection sharing device intended for home or small office use. The unit contains a single LAN port that can be attached either to a PC or to a hub. Through this port, the unit can service up to 253 users and includes a built in DHCP server. The unit can also act as a DHCP client should the ISP provide a dynamic IP address.

The Pro 100 has the ability to establish a dial-up session to an ISP should the primary connection fail. The dial-up session can be initiated through either an analog or an ISDN modem. Should the unit make a dial-up connection, it will still frequently attempt to reestablish the primary broadband connection.

It includes a NAT firewall with DMZ support for a single server. The firewall also supports the use of several preconfigured virtual server types and allows you to configure custom virtual servers.

The Nexland Pro 100 includes VPN support as well. Multiple PPTP and IPSec sessions are supported with unlimited tunnels. However, only a single session L2TP pass through is supported.

Finally, the unit supports many popular protocols such as RIP2, SNMP, and IGMP. It is designed to be compatible with PC, Macintosh, and UNIX workstations. One of the features that I really like is that it allows you to make a backup of the unit's configuration.

SETUP/INSTALLATION

The setup procedure was very simple and straight forward. The unit had four ports; a LAN port, a WAN port, a serial port, and a power port. After unboxing the unit, I attached the power supply, connected the WAN port to my DSL modem, and plugged the LAN port into my hub, and was ready to roll. The unit's capability of using an external analog or ISDN modem requires a serial based external modem, which I didn't have and was therefore unable to test. The unit came with a serial cable for attaching to the modem, but I would really like to see a modem integrated into future versions of the product.

Like most other Internet connection sharing devices, the Pro 100  came preconfigured to use the IP address 192.168.0.1, and had its built in DHCP server turned on by default. This meant that accessing the unit's Web interface was as simple as setting up a client to obtain an IP address automatically, opening a Web browser, and entering the unit's IP address.

When the configuration Web-page loaded, I wasn't prompted to enter a password. The unit does allow you to setup a configuration password, but I really liked that I could begin the configuration process without having to hunt through the instruction manual for the default password.

The next task was to connect the unit to my ISP. My ISP uses the PPPoE protocol. Therefore, on the unit's Main Setup screen, I only had to select the Enabled button in the PPPoE section, and enter my user name and password. The one thing that seems to be missing from the Main Setup screen though is a connect button. The only way to actually initiate the connection is to go to the Advanced PPPoE screen and click a Connect button. The Advanced PPPoE screen contains the ability to set a static IP address and also contains the PPPoE log file. From here, you can even take advantage of any special PPPoE services that your ISP may offer.

PERFORMANCE

I tested the unit's performance by using the speed tests at broadbandreports.com. In the area where I live, the phone company only offers DSL speeds of up to 384 KBPS. I ran the DSL speed test at about 9:00 AM on a Thursday morning, when traffic should have been pretty heavy. The report indicated that I was having upload speeds of 330 KBPS and download speeds of 323 KBPS. Both of these speeds are about right given the time of day and my ISP's limitations. The Nexland unit boasts up to 8Mbps throughput, but I have no way of validating the claim.

VIRTUAL SERVERS and PORT MAPPING

The unit offers full support for virtual servers and for port mapping. The Virtual Server support allows you to simply select a protocol or service (Web server, FTP, SMTP, etc.) and then map the service or protocol to an IP address. This feature worked perfectly. The Custom Virtual Servers section takes the concept a bit further by allowing you to associate port numbers with an IP address. Again, there were no problems.

SECURITY

I tested the unit's security and access control by running the ShieldsUP!! tests found at Gibson Research. They confirmed that the unit's security was working as intended.

SUMMARY

While the Nexland Pro 100 Internet Security Box lacks some of the features found on higher priced products, it seems like a great choice for anyone on a budget and in needs of the basics. The product is fast, reliable, and easy to use.

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