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n00b questions about broadband security

Last response: in Networking
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November 2, 2006 3:12:49 PM

Hi All,
I've been on dial-up for about 10 years now and finally put the call in to get cable internet. I just used Zone Alarm and Avast on my dial-up connection and it worked good for security, I never one got a virus with this set up, but that was probley due to the slow dialup connection and dynamic ip.

I will have this installed next week and want to be prepared.

I will have 2 pcs and my Xbox hooked up.

First I was thinking about getting the Linksys WRT54GS router. It is supposed to support both wired and wireless connections.

1. Can I mix both wired and wireless connections? Reason I want this is I an hopeing that if the computer has a wired connection that it can not be hacked by someone standing in close range? Also my xbox 360 is in another room and supports wifi so I would like to use it.

2. Is a router enough to keep people from seeing my computers? How should I set it up?

3. Should I get a hardware firewall between my pc and the router? Was thinking of an old pc set up as a firewall.

4. Should I still use zonealarm on my PC if I have the router?

5. If I go completley wireless, is there a way block access to a particular computer, even if the network was hacked into? Or to do that I would need what I asked in #3.

6. Anything else I need to know?

Thanks
November 2, 2006 3:56:48 PM

Quote:
1. Can I mix both wired and wireless connections?
Yes.
Quote:
Reason I want this is I an hopeing that if the computer has a wired connection that it can not be hacked by someone standing in close range?
Whether this can be stopped at the router depends on the router's features and how you set it up. Many routers allow you to specify which wireless clients (if any) have access to the LAN.
Quote:
2. Is a router enough to keep people from seeing my computers? How should I set it up?

3. Should I get a hardware firewall between my pc and the router? Was thinking of an old pc set up as a firewall.

4. Should I still use zonealarm on my PC if I have the router?
If I'm understanding you correctly, these questions are all related. The router will include a hardware firewall feature. This will block "attacks" coming from the WAN, but will not block "attacks" that appear to be a response to a program on your PC. You will still need Zone Alarm to stop that. So, you will want to enable the hardware firewall on your router with the strongest settings / ports blocked. If you are planning on gaming from your Xbox over the internet, then you will need to ensure the firewall is set up for that. I'm not a gamer, so I can't help much with that.
Quote:
5. If I go completley wireless, is there a way block access to a particular computer, even if the network was hacked into? Or to do that I would need what I asked in #3.
You'll want to enable the strongest wireless encryption your equipment will support. The router you mentioned supports WPA (maybe WPA2 by now). Use that, assuming your Xbox supports WPA. If you have to weaken your wireless security to support your Xbox, then you will have a compromised network, at least at some level. You can enable MAC filtering and disable SSID broadcast to help keep other computers from attaching or finding your wireless network, but they are far from foolproof.
Quote:
6. Anything else I need to know?
If you are very concerned about protecting your computers, you may want to also consider locking them down with Windows username/password logins, etc. What version of Windows are you running?

Since your internet connection will be "always on", don't leave your computer powered up 24/7. Shut it down when not in use.

Physical security is still be best security. If you are very concerned with protecting sensitive data, consider moving your more sensitive data to external hard drives that are only powered on when you are using the data.
November 2, 2006 4:42:54 PM

Quote:
3. Should I get a hardware firewall between my pc and the router? Was thinking of an old pc set up as a firewall.


You don't need a computer firewall between your router, but you could use IPCop, m0n0wall or Clarkconnect or Windows Server 2003 instead of the router. The setup is a little bit more complex. They function as a router, gateway, firewall and in some cases as a server.
!