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Why is Print Server Encryption Necessary?

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  • Encryption
  • Servers
  • Wireless Networking
Last response: in Wireless Networking
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January 31, 2007 11:28:26 AM

I've use a Belkin wireless router for my home network (WEP encryption). I'm trying to use a print server for an HP 6210xi all-in-one and a Canon S9000. I can get a Belkin wireless G USB print server to work if I don't try encrypting it, but once I do things stop working. I've followed the instructions and used the same WEP key as the main router uses, but no luck. I don't know if I'm supposed to be prompted from the individual computers to provide that key during a print request -- I never get a prompt. I don't really understand how the encryption works for the print server -- is the key a one-time thing for the print server itself, or should I be expecting to be prompted from individual computers -- once or every time?

Oops -- that wasn't the main question. Why do I need the encryption in the first place? Can someone get through my main router's encryption via an unprotected print server?

If I could configure the print server w/o encryption it would save a lot of headaches (compounded by the fact that I'm trying to integrate a Mac OS X machine in the batch...).

Thanks. mcaren

More about : print server encryption

January 31, 2007 2:23:01 PM

As to your main question, you encrypt your wireless LAN, not each specific client device ala cart. The wireless LAN is encrypted for everyone or no one. So, while you may not care if your neighbor sends a print job to your printer :wink: you may care if your neighbor leaches your internet bandwidth or snoops around in your shared folders.

As to your secondary question, I would assume you would set the encryption key once for the server and it would then just work. However, many people have reported problems with getting encryption to function properly with low end print servers. Notice the word "assume" just above - I've never set one of these devices up.

My advice? Use a wired print server.
January 31, 2007 5:47:07 PM

Thank you Tom for your reply. However, I still don't get it. If it's the LAN that's encrypted with the wireless router, and the print server requires a connection to the LAN, why do they offer encryption on the print server in the first place? Would there be a circumstance where someone would encrypt the print server and not the router?

As for your advice re: a wired server -- I was hoping to have our printers located far away from our router (not much room near our kitchen computer) -- a wired print server would need to be wired directly into the router would it not?

It's starting to sound like I need to build a server and move the router out of our kitchen...

Thanks again. mcaren
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January 31, 2007 7:34:52 PM

Quote:
Thank you Tom for your reply. However, I still don't get it. If it's the LAN that's encrypted with the wireless router, and the print server requires a connection to the LAN, why do they offer encryption on the print server in the first place? Would there be a circumstance where someone would encrypt the print server and not the router?
If you have enabled encryption, such as WEP, on your wireless router, the router will not establish a wireless connection with any device that does not also communicate with WEP encryption using the same encryption key.

Also, with WEP encryption, you need to be sure you are entering the key in the format expected. Many routers allow you to use a passphrase to generate the key. You need to pay attention to whether the key generated is 40/64 bits or 104/128 bits, and the format the key is generated in: ASCII string or a HEX string. Then, when entering the key in the print server, you need to enter it EXACTLY correctly, with the server expecting the kind of key (length, format) you are entering.

BTW, 40 and 64 are the same, as are 104 and 128; it is just two different ways of counting. The larger number includes the 24 bit initialization vector in the count. I know, more than you needed to know.
January 31, 2007 10:36:23 PM

Thanks Tom -- it's been so long since I added a device to the network that I forgot about it requiring the WEP key. But, I did make sure that I entered it exactly as shown -- the only difference I can think of is that the router security page shows the 128-WEP key in a slightly different manner than the print server key specification page. The router page shows 13 number-pair fields with either periods or dots between each field (5 fields on one line, 5 on the next, and 3 on the last line). There were two entry areas during the print server encryption -- one with 13 fields in a different configuration (something like 4 or 5 rows of a smaller number of fields) and a later key entry page with one field. I entered the 13-field page as if the fields were arranged in a linear fashion -- reading left to right across each row before beginning the next row. I didn't separate the paired numbers in that last single entry field with anything (like periods) -- just entered them as a string. I think I've done that before, tho -- so I wouldn't think that's the problem.

We don't use a passphrase.

I'm a bit confused tho -- now that you mention it about the encryption requirement; I was getting signals through earlier without encryption (I could print from one unconnected PC. The only thing I had done at that point was enter the MAC address of the print server in the router "approved" list. If I was asked at any point during that connection for a WEP key I sure don't remember it... But, I was really tired and ready to smash the thing to bits -- maybe I've just forgotten.

Anyway, I appreciate your time on this and will just chalk it up to a cheap print server. I'm having no luck with my iMac connection at all (I'm going to attempt an FTP connection before giving up entirely), so will probably have to go another route anyway. Cheap server + PC/Mac network + one new/one outdated printer = a mess. There are easier ways to do this...

Thanks again.
!
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