Linksys Home Network Defender
|Linksys Home Network Defender|
|Home Networking Defender Setup|
|Parental Controls, Reports and Final Thoughts|
It's no mystery that the internet is not that safe of a place for a naive person to surf. The reality is that it is becoming an increasing malicious place to gather information. Companies try and solve this by selling consumers a router/firewall, but that still doesn't prevent you from going to sites that have malicious content. The solution falls on the company who makes the web-browser. Firefox and IE have some sort of anti-phishing filters to take care of that vulnerability. Then comes the issue of preventing kids from viewing content that they shouldn't - pornography, explicit violence, and even hacking sites should be on the banned list of every home network, but there are so many sites that it's impossible to add them to a "Banned" list which most routers offer.
A partial solution is a service like OpenDNS. This service allows you to specify network-wide surfing filters that can provide some protection based on changing the name servers on your router. You'll need to know something about configuring a router, although OpenDNS does make it pretty easy. All of this of course still leaves you open to viruses and if you want protection from those, you'll need to buy a license for each machine on your network. Sounds complicated? I thought the guy at the computer store said it would be "simple and fun" and so far it seems like a big headache.
For safe surfing and protection for different members of your family you'll need the following:
- A good router with a decent firewall (SPI).
- A router configuration that blocks known malicious/adult sites.
- A web-browser that doesn't run scripts/phishing (Firefox).
- A service like OpenDNS to help protect the entire network with "blanket" coverage.
- Anti-virus software on your machines.
- A lot of patience to set all of this up.
There are some shortcomings to this setup however.
- Block sites on a router are limited to sites that you list. There are many more sites cropping up every day.
- Web-browsers all have vulnerabilities.
- OpenDNS applies its rules to all computers on the network. If an adult wants to get information that you've blocked for your families protection, you simply cannot access that information.
- Individual licenses for anti-virus are expensive and many are "bloated".
- All the setup and configuration of all the different services and features takes time and is fragmented.
Thankfully there is an alternative to this issue that is probably one of the best solutions out there right now. This is the Home Network Defender from Linksys and Trend Micro. This is a software package that runs on your Linksys WRT610N, WRT310N and soon the WRT160N router. This provides easily customizable protection for your entire network - as well as individual machines. Also bundled with the Home Network Defender are four 1-year licenses for Trend Micro Anti-Virus. The cost of this entire Home Network Defender package is about the same price as one copy of Norton Anti-Virus, but the Home Network Defender does so much more.
To test out the Home Network Defender we used the WRT310N router. This router is a solid product that provides 1GB wired Ethernet speed as well as 802.11n wireless speeds to make everything snappy. While this article isn't about the WRT310N, we'll still show a few product shots so you know what you're getting into when you pick up the Home Network Defender.
All of the Linksys WRT routers made since their insanely popular WRT54G series have switched to this new style. I'm honestly not crazy about the styling's of the WRT110, WRT160N, WRT310N and WRT610N products, but that's personal preference.
Now that you've seen the shortcomings of other solutions and the hardware, on the next page we'll dive into the Home Networking Defender and see what it's all about.