BUYING A WIRELESS ROUTER
You might be asking what features should I look for in a wireless router. You will have to ask yourself some questions first.
1. Do you currently have a 802.11b or 802.11g wireless adapter?
2. Do you want to connect remotely to your office network?
3. Do you live in an apartment or house?
4. What security features are you looking for?
5. Do you have desktop computers to connect also?
If you currently have a 802.11g wireless adapter you will want to purchase a 802.11g wireless router so you can maximize your network speed at 54mbps. 802.11g adapters will also connect to 802.11b wireless routers but you will only have a network speed of 11mbps. This speed you still be fine for the majority of users, most public wireless access points use 802.11b.
Connecting securely to your home office will require a technology called a VPN or virtual private network. Most routers will claim to have the ability to use VPN’s but when you attempt to connect you receive nothing buy errors. So you will want to purchase a wireless router that will specifically designed for wireless and VPN technology. Once you have purchased your wireless router you need to get the latest firmware updates from the manufacture.
Wireless router security could fill up volumes so I will keep it as “simple” as possible. The following are some basic features that are on most routers:
1. Disabling SSID broadcasting
2. Change your default SSID
3. Enable WEP encryption
4. Enable MAC address filtering
If you enable the above you will discourage most “hackers” from even looking at your wieless network. There are too many wide open networks that don’t need any brainwork to get into.
The following are some of the more advanced Security features on newer routers with updated firmware.
1. WPA – WPA is the solution to all of WEP’s security flaws. WEP uses one key to for all network traffic. A hacker can exploit this by using a network analyzer to capture the key. WPA changes the key with every data frame so once a hacker captures the key it has already been changed by WPA. WPA uses tools such as TKIP and AES encryption.
2. WPA-PSK (Wireless Protected Area pre shared key) This is really easy to set up just copy your shared key to router and adapter and your set.
3. TKIP – The second best version of encryption for WPA
4. AES – This is the highest version of encryption for WPA
5. WPA -RADIUS uses a RADIUS server to authenticate users which adds another layer of security. Linksys does offer a service to for $5.00 month per user to use their RADIUS server. If you have no clue what you just read then don’t worry about it.
Wired security will include NAT ( Network Address Translation) this takes your public IP address and converts it into multiple private IP addresses. Some people consider this a firewall but it isn’t because it doesn’t block unwanted outgoing addresses.
Another newer feature is Called MIMO (Multi in Multi out) the basic concept of this your router or access point has more that just two antennas which enables your router to receive and send information at a greater rate. This creates signal reflections which could reduce dead spots in your network. Add on top of this SRX technology will automatically have your router switch to the clearest channel instead of staying on a channel with interference. The above will increase your range greatly and the increase the power of your signal.
Another router feature is POE (Power over Ethernet) this is a really good feature for business environment because you power your router through the Ethernet cable, which means you don’t need a power outlet.
One feature which is often over looked but one of the coolest features of a wireless router or access point is the ability of act as a wireless bridge. If you have a huge ware house and you need to connect computers on either end of the warehouse you can use a wireless bridge to connect both ends with out running wires.
The main things to remember are: 802.11g is faster than 802.11b, enable the basic security features and finally choose the router that will fit your needs.