Why Start a Network?
What are the benefits of having your own network? With a network,
• Share your high-speed Internet
• Share your music, pictures, and other files
• Secure your computers against Internet threats
• Play head-to-head games online
• Share your printer
If you have more than one computer, a home network will let you
share resources among them. Any computer can print on a shared printer
located anywhere in the house. And your computers can share all
kinds of files—music, digital pictures, and documents. Keep
all your digital music on one computer, and listen to it anywhere
in the house. Organize and keep all of your family's digital pictures
in one place, so it's easy to find the ones you want and make backup
copies on CD-R. Use extra free space on one computer when another's
hard drive starts to fill up. Play network computer games either
head-to-head, or on a team.
If you sign up for a cable or DSL Internet
connection, a home network will allow all your computers to share
the line. Everybody can keep a private e-mail account and surf the
web at the same time. You can also play online computer games with
friends and opponents from around the world.
Plus, the same router that lets you share
Internet access also helps to protect your computers from Internet
Router Security: NAT, SPI, and VPN
Linksys routers offer a variety of
security features. To pick the router that offers the level of security
you want for your network, you need to know about the two levels
of router security:
Network Address Translation (NAT) Technology - Prevents hackers
from seeing (and attacking) your network address while you're surfing
Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI) Firewall - Inspects packets of
information coming into your system to make sure they are not an
attack from a hacker.
Virtual Private Network (VPN) - Enables communication with another
computer or your company's network over the Internet with a secure,
NAT technology translates IP addresses of a local area network to
a different IP address for the Internet. Each computer on your network
has a local IP address. When the router gets the data transmission
to forward out to the Internet, the router puts a different IP address
on the transmission. This way, whoever receives the data transmission
doesn't know what the actual IP address of the computer is, so the
computer is hidden, safe from prying eyes.
The term firewall is a blanket term describing security measures
that protect a network. Because the router is your network's connection
to the Internet, a router with a built-in firewall protects your
entire local network, like an alarm system for your house. SPI is
a type of firewall that inspects incoming data packets to make sure
they correspond to an outgoing request. Unsolicited—and possibly
harmful—packets are rejected.
When your data transmission leaves your local network, the data
itself is not protected, unless you establish a VPN. When you use
a VPN, you are creating a secure connection between your network
and another one over the Internet. VPNs are frequently used by businesses.
Here are a few examples:
A branch office has a VPN connection with the corporate headquarters
A telecommuter has a VPN connection from his home office to the
Using her laptop, a corporate trainer who's on the road has a VPN
connection from the hotel room to the office.
Picking the Right Router for You
Your choice of router depends on what capabilities your network
requires and what level of security you require for peace of mind.
Every Linksys router provides NAT
technology so every network has a basic level of network security.
Linksys has several options if you
need advanced security. Several of our routers have a built-in SPI
firewall, including the Firewall Router with 4-Port Switch/VPN Endpoint
(BEFSX41), Wireless-G Broadband Router (WRT54G), and Wireless A+G
Broadband Router (WRT55AG). When traveling, protect your PC with
the USB VPN & Firewall Adapter (USBVPN1), which offers SPI and
VPN capability in a portable form.
If your small office requires secure connections
via VPN, the VPN Router (BEFVP41) features the capability of creating
up to 70 simultaneous tunnels. For home use, the aforementioned
Firewall Router (BEFSX41) also supports 2 VPN tunnels. Routers without
built-in VPN endpoint functionality can be supplemented by VPN endpoint
software applications for PCs.
Protection from the Perils
of the Internet
Q: How do you protect your network from Internet
A:Use antivirus software and firewall technology.
Every networked computer that has Internet access is—to some
degree—at risk, so Internet security is important to consider
when you create a network.
Viruses and Antivirus Software
There are many different types of Internet threats, but the most
common problem is viruses. In brief, viruses are programs that run
on your computer without your permission. Depending on the virus,
there may be no effect at all, or the virus could cause damage to
your computer, which may even be severe enough to require the re-installation
of its operating system. These days, most viruses spread via e-mail.
If you open an infected attachment, then you activate the virus.
To protect a computer from viruses, use antivirus software. If the
software detects a virus, it will take action to protect your computer.
Viruses are constantly created, so it is important to update your
software's virus definition file on a regular basis. Kept current,
your software will then be able to recognize and remove the viruses
that come your way.
Unauthorized Access and Firewall Technology
Other Internet problems are less common. For example, there are
hackers that try to access computers without permission. Depending
on their intentions, the damage can vary from mild pranks to theft
of financial data. The odds of a hacker wasting his or her time
on your personal network are slim, but it can happen.
To protect against unauthorized access, use firewall technology.
The term firewall is a blanket term describing security measures
that protect a network and are implemented in hardware or software.
The hardware firewall in a firewall router protects an entire network.
Software firewalls implemented on individual computers protect the
computers themselves. If you have both a firewall router and firewalls
installed on your computers, the different firewalls will work at
the same time; they won't interfere with each other. (Note: Firewall
software may slow down a computer's performance, depending on the
individual computer's tasks and processing capabilities.)
Fortunately, protecting your network from viruses and unauthorized
access is easy. To control what goes on in your network, Linksys
offers protection through your router's built-in security features
and Symantec's Norton Internet Security™ software. To learn
about the security features available on Linksys routers, click
With no cables to run, wireless networks are
convenient and easy to install, so homes with high-speed Internet
access are adopting them at a rapid pace. However, wireless networking
is inherently risky because it sends information over radio waves.
Like signals from your cellular or cordless phones, signals from
your wireless network can also be intercepted.
Four Steps You Need
Networking makes it easy to share Internet access and data. But
you wouldn't want to share your information with just anyone. With
a wireless network, your information is traveling through the airwaves—not
physical wires, so anyone within range can "listen in"
on your network. Here are four essential security measures you should
take to secure your wireless network.
Change the default SSID (network name).
Disable the SSID broadcast option.
Change the default password needed to access a wireless device.
Enable MAC address filtering.
1.) Change the default SSID:
Your wireless devices have a default SSID set by the factory. The
SSID is the name of your wireless network, and it can be anything
you wish. Linksys wireless products use linksys as the default SSID.
Hackers know these defaults and can try them to join your network.
Change the network's SSID to something unique, and make sure it
doesn't refer to the networking products you use.
As an added precaution, be sure to change the SSID on a regular
basis, so any hacker who may have figured out your network's SSID
in the past will have to figure out the SSID again and again. This
will deter future intrusion attempts.
2.) Disable SSID broadcast:
By default, most wireless networking devices are set to broadcast
the SSID, so anyone can easily join the wireless network. But hackers
will also be able to connect, so unless you're running a public
hotspot, it's best to disable SSID broadcast.
3.) Change the default password needed to
access a wireless device:
For wireless products such as access points and routers, you will
be asked for a password when you want to change their settings.
These devices have a default password set by the factory. (The Linksys
default password is admin.) Hackers know these defaults and will
try them to access your wireless device and change your network
settings. To thwart any unauthorized changes, customize the device's
password so it will be hard to guess.
4.) Enable MAC address filtering:
If your wireless products—such as access points and routers—offer
it, enable MAC address filtering. The MAC address is a unique series
of numbers and letters assigned to every networking device. With
MAC address filtering enabled, wireless network access is provided
solely for wireless devices with specific MAC addresses. This makes
it harder for a hacker to access your network using a random MAC
There are other security measures you can take as well, but these
four are the most essential. For more information on the latest,
most secure encryption available, Wi-Fi Protected Access™
(WPA), click here. For more information on other security features
and options, such as Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) encryption,
and details on how to implement these four steps, refer to the User
Guides for your wireless products.