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D-Link DI-701 Residential Gateway

The unit
  • Hardware firewall
  • Manages your network for sharing of Cable/DSL connection
  • Works with any Ethernet connection
  • Supports up to 32 computers

(+,-) $120 USD

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We are experiencing an explosion in networking components. Five years ago it would be the very unique individual who would go through the expense of setting a LAN (Local Area Network) at home. Typically, networks were designed with business and corporation users in mind. A couple of years ago a new phenomenon entered into the minds of these designers: people were not getting rid of their older computers but rather were simply adding newer computers to their home. What was immediately apparent was that there were the beginnings of a market for home based networking products. While typically we think of hubs and NICs (Network Interface Card) when we think of home networking products there is one indispensable product that every home LAN user should consider owning: a hardware based firewall.

A firewall is a system that is designed to prevent unauthorized access to private computers or networks. Not grasping the concept yet? Imagine this. Every time you are online others are able to "see" you, and therefore may attempt to probe your computer. This is especially true for users of broadband connections like cable modems and DSL. The reason is that broadband users have a fixed IP address, while dial-up users are assigned an available IP whenever they log onto the internet. Another problem to consider here is that these broadband users are always online - and therefore subject to attack while not at home or away from their computer. In Windows based networks the job of hacking into the network is considerably easy because the LAN user must enable file and printer sharing on their computer for the network to work, which opens the network to outside attack.

There are a proliferation of software based firewall solutions. The obvious question here is why go to the expense of purchasing a hardware based firewall when a user can easily use a software solution? The short answer is that the user of a software firewall is still visible on the internet, although probing of his/her ports may be harder due to the software firewall. While a hardware firewall can block access to a user's ports, it also completely hides the user's IP address, therefore making attack of the user much harder. This is not to say that software firewalls don't work, but at a fundamental level the hardware firewall offers more protection. Consider this: do you have information on your computer that you would not want others to access? What about the possibility of destroyed system files from malicious attack? Would the downtime after an attack affect your productivity? Would the theft of your data lead to lost revenue or distribution of highly personal information? I'd highly recommend you consider a firewall that is hardware based if any of these apply to you. A bonus of this setup is that you can also run a software firewall to further protect yourself.


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