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  1. #1
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    Firewall and Router

    I am running a linksys WRT54G wireless network at home with a DSL connection. I have 2 questions for the experts here.
    1) How important is it to update the firmware etc. on the router? Is this like keeping your other important software up to date or not?
    2) I of course have the built in firewall of the router running , do I also need a software firewall on each computer, and if yes, are there any specific issues I should be aware of?
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    Re: Firewall and Router

    Zave,
    In my opinion, firmware upgrades are much like bios upgrades on a PC. If you are encountering specific probelms that a firmware upgrade will solve, then upgrading is probably a good idea. If not, then "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".

    As for software firewalls - YES! YES! YES! Your router only gives you incoming protection, not outgoing. I am personally using the Sygate Personal Firewall (free for home use). It is very simple to use. Zone Alarm has had many many problems lately, and many long time ZA users are jumping ship. One thing with any software firewall however. Know the address of your router and allow communications with this address. To find the router address if you don't know it - Start, Run and type "cmd" (without the quotes) and click on OK. At the command prompt, type in "ipconfig /all" (again without the quotes). The router address will appear in the DHCP Server line.

    Hope this helps.
    John
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  3. #3
    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Re: Firewall and Router

    I have a different (cheaper) Netgear wireless router. Although there is one new firmware upgrade available, the thing it adds is totally inconsequential to me, particularly compared with the risk that after I re-input all the settings, the network might not work (and several people who have input long, unintelligible WEP keys into their computers will be unhappy with me if they have to enter new ones). So I am skipping that particular update.

    With respect to software firewalls, there are several free ones which are considered good. These include ZoneAlarm (which has had compatibility problems with Norton products), Sygate, and Outpost. Reviewers have praised Norton Personal Firewall, particularly for ease of use, but if you are comfortable with free software, you probably will find the aforementioned products equally effective and in some ways more powerful.

  4. #4
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    Re: Firewall and Router

    where do you allow the communication in the firewall?
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    Re: Firewall and Router

    When you first start using the firewall, pop ups will appear when something on your machine tries to access the outside world or when something from the outside wants to access your machine. Examples: Do you want to allow 192.168.1.1. to access your computer? . I know that is my router's address so I answer Yes. Do you want to allow Internet Explorer to access the internet? . Do you want to allow Windows Update to access your computer? You will get these questions each time an unrecognized process tries to communicate. When you respond, you will be given the choice of Yes or No and Remember my Answer. The first day or so, you will get quite a number of these questions until the software "learns" your preferences. After this initial period, only new and unrecognized attempts to communicate will trigger these questions. It's really quite simple and YOU are in complete control of what communicates with your system.

    Also essential is Anti Virus software with up to date virus definitions and Spyware detection and blocking software ( Ad-Aware , Spybot , Spyware Blaster ), etc.
    John
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    Re: Firewall and Router

    I would keep a reasonably close eye on your firewall firmware.

    In the case of WRT54G, I do beleve they just recently released an update that fixed a security hole that allowed the management interface to be opened from the internet side, even if that feature had been turned off ! So, I would try to keep it up to date.

    At our office we run a Watchguard Firebox III as our firewall between the LAN and the Internet, and do notcurrently run firewalls on the machines themselves. However, the FB's are full-featured dedicated business class boxen. I have a WRT54G at home, but I haven't installed it yet, but I understand it to be a more limited SOHO class sort of device. You might want the additional protection of something running on the workstations that will tell you "I'm blocking X - here's why". Might want to wait until XP SP2's firewall gets done and see if that will work for you.

    In a general sense, a "defense-in depth " strategy seems to be the best idea for PC protection. If you have several layers or anti-mal/firewall functions (each from a different vendor), then you will be better protected.

    Jim

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    Re: Firewall and Router

    Is the XP SP2 firewall bi-directional?
    edited to add: As well, why would one want to wait for the MS firewall (which is still several months away), when there are good free products available now? These can always be uninstalled at a later date if something better comes along. In my opinion, it is imperative to protect NOW, not several months down the road.
    John
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    Re: Firewall and Router

    John,
    XP SP-2 firewall is NOT bi-directional. The only reason to run the MS firewall is if you don't know any better. It is reasonably good at managing inbound and better than nothing. XP SP-2 is probably less than a month away now. Last word I saw was it was supposed to RTM this week with a web release mid-August.

    Joe

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    Re: Firewall and Router

    Thanks Joe. That's exactly my point. Incoming can be handled by the router (or the XP firewall), but outgoing requires a bi-directional firewall. That's what I was trying to point out to Zave and Jim.
    John
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    Never Regains Its Original Dimensions

  10. #10
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    Re: Firewall and Router

    And you did a <img src=/w3timages/censored.gif alt=censored border=0> good job of it! (for what that's worth!)

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    Re: Firewall and Router

    Thanks Al. Positive feedback is always welcome!
    John
    A Child's Mind, Once Stretched by Imagination...
    Never Regains Its Original Dimensions

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    Re: Firewall and Router

    Thanks John.
    BTW I ran Sygate's online security tests, and they were the same with and without the firewall operating. But, the purpose of the extra software firewall is what goes out, not in.

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    Re: Firewall and Router

    Go to the Gibson Reseach site and run the leak test as well.
    Charlotte

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    Re: Firewall and Router

    You may be missing the point. The purpose of a software firewall is to analyze and protect both inbound and outbound traffic. When you are run a hardware firewall the software inbound checking provides another layer of protection. Multi-layer proctection is better as there is nothing fool proof with hardware or software firewalls.

    Joe

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    Re: Firewall and Router

    Now I see the difference. Thanks Charlotte

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