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Questions on routers

by hidana / June 23, 2010 2:54 AM PDT

I would like to buy a router to add a hardware firewall to my PC and have a number of questions that I haven't been able to find answers to from googling. Could someone help me please?

I only have one PC and I am only going to have wired connection (cable modem). I am running Vista.

1) Is it true that I don't need to worry about the speed of the router because I am not using any wireless connection?
2) Since I am only using wired connection, is it true that even if someone hacks into my wireless network they won't be able to pick up anything I transfer?
3) I am also using a software firewall (Windows firewall from Vista). I heard that a hardware firewall just adds extra security to my system. Is it true that, even if I configure my router incorrectly, I won't be introducing additional vulnerability to my existing system?

Thanks so much in advance.

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There Are Gigbit Routers
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / June 23, 2010 3:16 AM PDT
In reply to: Questions on routers

1. ...but in order gain the extra wireless speed from that router, you'll also need an ethernet card which supports gigabit speeds.. So in answer to your first question, since almost all routers currently support 10/100 speed, you'll need to check the ability of the ethernet card to know whether the speed of the router is appropriate.

2. On most wireless enabled routers, if you're not going to use the wireless ability, you should have the ability to disable it entirely.. Disabling the wireless ability is a more secure way of addressing the problem.. Think of a hacker accessing your wireless system and using it to download porn, etc.. Although you might not have a major security risk to your personally "wired" computer, the police would still come visiting you as the culprit.

3. Configuring your router correctly is still needed.. Configuring it incorrectly, as I've shown in question number 2, can create vulnerabilities also.

Hope this helps.

Grif

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some router info
by ChuckT / June 23, 2010 3:27 AM PDT
In reply to: Questions on routers

1) Routers are typically so much quicker than the typical home Internet connection that speed should not be an issue. Especially since you are only considering using the wired port.

2) You do not have to get a router that has additional wireless capability. Only-wired router are around, and they usually are cheaper. Even if you do get a wire/wireless router usually there are setup capabilities to just shut off the wireless. Doing that you will have no reason to worry about a possible wireless security issue.

3) The hardware firewall is generally SO MUCH better, more secure, and can not be shut off (well almost never) by someone outside your network. You can additionally run a software firewall, but it just slows down some traffic, and complicates matters if you ever want to allow outside person gaming (since you will have to enable two firewalls to allow such traffic). Why complicate matters for very little gain?

Besides, why are you so worried about security? Are you a terrorist sleeper cell?

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Thanks for the help
by hidana / June 23, 2010 8:23 AM PDT
In reply to: Questions on routers

Thanks Grif and ChuckT.

Actually I didn't know that I could turn off the wireless ability on a router. Yes I can just turn it off to make things simpler. I didn't know that there are only-wired routers either. When I search for routers on bestbuy I only see wireless ones. I will take a closer look.

Thanks Grif that's a good point (2), I just never thought of that.

I am worried about security because I know little about this kind of stuffs and I've read horror stories about viruses and infections. I am really thankful that you guys are providing help here to people like me Happy

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Get the wireless
by zxxxt / June 23, 2010 1:01 PM PDT
In reply to: Thanks for the help

Price difference is very minimal and you might need wireless network in the future. Just disable it now and just turn it on when you need it.

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Answers 1, 2, 3 . . .
by Coryphaeus / June 24, 2010 12:14 AM PDT
In reply to: Questions on routers

1. The router's speed is many times faster than any ISP connection.

2. 99% of all routers today are wired and wireless. Connect it wired and turn the wireless off.

3. True. To a point. There are still "drive by" threats than can invade your system, and emails are still vulnerable. Be sure to run an Anti-virus and anti-malware program. My choices are AVG free for AV, and for malware I run MalwareBytes and Super Anti-spyware, both free.

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Match and maybe future-proof
by Zouch / June 26, 2010 1:08 AM PDT
In reply to: Questions on routers

Quick thoughts:

1. Match the speed of your router to the incoming cable connection and your PC's Ethernet card (I'm assuming your cable modem uses Ethernet to connect to your PC currently and not USB).

I'm not aware of any home interbet servoce that currently offers more than 100 Mbits/sec (Fast Ethernet, 100baseT) but Virgin Media in the UK, for instance is talking about cable connections up to 400 Mbits/sec, which would require a Gigabit Router (or strictly 1000baseT if the connection is copper).

Your PC internet port may be either 10/100baseT (fast Ethernet) or 1000baseT (Gigabit), so you might want to get a router that matches.

Or you just might want to go Gigabit to "future-proof" your investment. Note that all these comments refer to the wired ports, not the wireless facility.

2. Go wireless router and turn off the radio in the control panel. Go for an 802.11N1+ wireless router (300 Mbits/sec) for future use.

3. You should configure your router correctly. On home systems this is generally fairly straightforward. Your hardware router should be an additional security measure to add to your other software protection, not an alternative, so keep your Vista firewal (or better, ZoneAlarm or Comodo).

Hope this helps.

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Answers - READ ANSWER 3, IT'S DIFFERENT TO WHAT YOU'VE BEEN
by 3rdalbum / June 27, 2010 12:10 AM PDT
In reply to: Questions on routers

1. You don't need to worry about the speed of the router for what you are doing today. Even if you added some computers, you probably wouldn't worry. It's only if you were sharing files between computers should you look for a router with faster wired ports or faster wireless.

2. True, wireless clients cannot intercept wired transfer and vice-versa. I'd still advise probably buying a wireless router, but turn off the wireless functionality until you want it.

3. The other posters whose answers I have read have GOT THIS WRONG.

By default, your router should come with all incoming ports CLOSED. This is a very good thing; it's what a firewall does. You can open ports if you wish (this process is known as "port forwarding") and then computers from the Internet can INITIATE a communication with one nominated computer on your network, on a certain port number.

Note: Your computer can still INITIATE a communication with a computer on the Internet when your firewall's ports are closed; so you SHOULD NOT forward ports "so I can surf the Internet" as this is a different direction of communication.

Other people will tell you that you need your software-based firewall, even though you are behind a hardware firewall in your router. This is, frankly, ill-thought-out advice, and Cnet forum rules prevent me from saying a stronger word. Assuming you haven't forwarded any ports in your router, no incoming connection attempt will make it alive out of your router. In other words, the software firewall running on your PC will NEVER see an incoming connection unless you have explicitly allowed it in your router's setup.

It's like going into medieval battle wearing two suits of armour; no sword will penetrate the outer suit, so why are you bothering to wear the inner suit too?

My advice is: Once you've got the router in place to provide the hardware firewall (this is assuming that your existing modem does not already do this) you can safely turn off any firewalls running on your PCs.

Anyone out there with a router care to disagree with me? Try going to the Shields Up! website and run a port scan, and see if your PC's firewall sees the incoming connection requests. They will be silently dropped by the router's firewall and the website will tell you that you've achieved a perfect rating, but your software firewall will not even see anything because the connection was dropped before it even reached your computer.

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Now complete your firewall treatise.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 27, 2010 12:13 AM PDT

You covered the inbound firewall (from outside to the PC) but skipped the outbound connections.

Many want to know when something is sending information out of the PC.

The outbound firewall was how most spyware was discovered.
Bob

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