Rick23
1 Nickel

Re: Network connection - Inspiron to Desktop PC

I'm already way out of my depth as regards all of this protocol business. I have the XP firewall enabled on the Internet access machine and I keep my Nortons Internet Security up to date. I found a url called www.pcflank.com which simulates a hacker scanning your system. Thats the best I can do from a security point of view.

My desktop accesses the Internet through a cable Broadband connection.

What is a routers NAT? My ignorance is exposed now in that a router means nothing to me. Is it a device through which several computers can share a resource like a Broadband connection? Do I plug the Cable modem straight into it? If so how will this enable me to easily get both computer accessing the Internet?

Thought everything was going well here but out of the frying pan and into the fire.

 

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Jerry Park
3 Zinc

Re: Network connection - Inspiron to Desktop PC



@Rick23 wrote:

I'm already way out of my depth as regards all of this protocol business. I have the XP firewall enabled on the Internet access machine and I keep my Nortons Internet Security up to date. I found a url called www.pcflank.com which simulates a hacker scanning your system. Thats the best I can do from a security point of view.


My desktop accesses the Internet through a cable Broadband connection.


What is a routers NAT? My ignorance is exposed now in that a router means nothing to me. Is it a device through which several computers can share a resource like a Broadband connection? Do I plug the Cable modem straight into it? If so how will this enable me to easily get both computer accessing the Internet?


Thought everything was going well here but out of the frying pan and into the fire.







Routers and how they work covers a lot of area. Some tutorials here might help: http://practicallynetworked.com/networking/

NAT means Network Address Translation. A router receives the IP address from your ISP which is an Internet addressable address. The router then assigns (through DHCP) internal (not Internet addressable addresses) to the computers connected to it. It is more difficult for someone to attack your network in this situation because they can only address your router. The attacker doesn't know the addresses used internally on your network and can't address them even if he did know them. When you use a computer as your gateway, sharing its connection with other computers on your network, an attacker on the Internet is directly addressing that computer. Computers, being more complex and multi-purpose devices, are easier to 'hack' into than routers.

Many routers, in addition to the protection of NAT, also have firewall capabilities. Firewalls, whether software based on a computer or internal to a router are additional protection. I don't generally run firewalls on my computers, though that is fine. I just find it easier to use the firewall on the router rather than maintaining multiple firewalls on multiple computers.

ICS (Internet Connection Sharing) is Microsoft's method of sharing an Internet connection where one computer has the Internet access and it shares that access with other computers. There are other software solutions as well, generally called proxy servers. As noted above, the computer providing Internet sharing is exposed to the Internet. Aside from that, your whole network's access to the Internet depends on that single computer. Computers have a tendency to fail due to their complexity and multi-purpose design. Routers in general are far more reliable.

It is certainly possible to maintain a computer as a router/gateway and to do so securely. It is just much much easier to use a router.
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Rick23
1 Nickel

Re: Network connection - Inspiron to Desktop PC

Thanks for your clear explanation of terms and technology.

To summarise, I will have less security problems and more reliability if I get a router. I went to the site you recommended and started reading some of the reviews of different routers. There is a lot to learn about the options and capabilities of routers.

What should I look for:

 - built in firewall

 - wireless and line connection for future proofing (I don't need wireless now but I may in the future, strikes me with wireless though it's another security problem)

 - is there a limit to how many computers can attach to the router

- especially in one of the reviews it talked about having a wizard to set up the router inferring that it could be as complicated a job to configure a router as it is to get ICS to work

Which would you recommend that would be simple to setup?

 

 

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Jerry Park
3 Zinc

Re: Network connection - Inspiron to Desktop PC

Most inexpensive routers can address 253 devices (the router will have one address of the availavble 254). That is, an address like 192.168.0.x where x is 1 to 254 and the subnet mask is 255.255.255.0 . Most inexpensive routers will have 4 ports. If you need more, you can attach a hub/switch (a switch is a hub which is more efficient, since it sends packets to individual machines rather than broadcasting).

If you don't need wireless now, you can save the expense and purchase an inexpensive access point later (just plug it in as you would a computer).

A firewall is nice, but not really necessary unless you are hosting servers on your systems (that is, you have ports open to the internet). If you aren't running servers from your system, NAT will probably be sufficient.

Most routers are fairly simple to set up. They generally come with good setup documentation, which will walk you through the screens. Also, most inexpensive routers have a web based interface which makes it easy to change settings. (Some of the more expensive ones require you to telnet to the router -- not difficult, but certainly not as user friendly as a web interface).

One thing to consider is how you are connecting to the internet now. If you are using a cable modem or ADSL modem, are you connecting to it with an ethernet cable or a USB connection? Most routers cannot operate a USB modem, and you will need an ethernet system. I believe that there are some which will operate a USB modem, but can't recall any at the moment.

If you are using dialup, there are several routers which can operate a dial up modem through a serial port.
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Rick23
1 Nickel

Re: Network connection - Inspiron to Desktop PC

Well I had a look around and saw this router http://www.ebuyer.com/customer/products/index.html?action=c2hvd19wcm9kdWN0X292ZXJ2aWV3&product_uid=4...

It seems to have everything I need (and hope I will ever need!) but am not a 100% sure. It has four ports, supports the two wireless standards, it has a firewall, and is easy to configure.

As I have several web sites I may eventually set up my own server so I am happy to have the firewall option and if we move to a bigger house and kids grow up and want internet I think I will grow into the Wireless options later on.

I have a cable modem with ethernet cable in and out.

So hopefully this should be me sorted for the next 5 years or so until all the standards change again.

Can you see any gotchas that I'm not seeing with the router? It's frustrating being so ignorant, it's a bit like buying a car and forgetting to ask if it was fitted with four wheels.

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Rick23
1 Nickel

Re: Network connection - Inspiron to Desktop PC

Just having another look and found this one

http://www.ebuyer.com/customer/products/index.html?action=c2hvd19wcm9kdWN0X292ZXJ2aWV3&product_uid=5... which is cheaper seems to have everything that the other has except some encryption device which I'n not sure that I really need.

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Jerry Park
3 Zinc

Re: Network connection - Inspiron to Desktop PC

Either should do a good job for you. The only other thing I would note is that if you aren't planning on using wireless now, I'd go with a router without built in wireless and add an access point later. The reason is the WEP (the encryption standard for 802.11 a,b,g) has some serious flaws. The newer standard (WPA) is just now beginning to be available. It fixes the security flaws in WEP. Since most wireless devices don't yet support the better encryption standard (and my not be upgraded in the future), if security is a concern, I wait on the wireless.
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Re: Network connection - Inspiron to Desktop PC

These problems are often caused by not configuring your firewall software to allow a connection with the other computer.  In both McAfee and Norton there is an ISP configuration screen.  Go to that screen and make sure the ISP range 192.168.1.1 to 192.168.1.200 is allowed to connect.  That may solve the problem.

Earl

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Rick23
1 Nickel

Re: Network connection - Inspiron to Desktop PC

Thanks for the commnet.

I have enabled the Firewall between my desktop computer and the internet. I have not enabled a firewall between the desktop and the Laptop. Should I?

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Rick23
1 Nickel

Re: Network connection - Inspiron to Desktop PC

OK, I'll order a router and see what other hoops I have to jump through. So I'll sign off until I've got that organised.

Thanks again

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