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Routers - 802.11b, 108 Mbps and security

Trying to understand more about how wireless routers work.



12:03 am on Oct 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'm looking for a router and have been asking about other aspects of this in other forums - hardware and linux. Now, I've got questions that are more suited to this forum.

What is really the difference between 802.11b and 108 Mbps? It sounds to me just like the 2nd is faster? And more expensive. Is 802.11b really that slow? Changing from dial up to cable I can't imagine I'd be bothered by a slight slow down in the internet connection by a router.

The Netgear routers I'm looking at also look like the 108 ones also have WPA, but not the 802.11b routers.

Is a router that has NAT, SPI and VPN capabilities secure enough?

And what about routers that can be used either wired or wireless? That's what I was thinking about going with, as I'm not planning to set up a wireless network yet, but might in the future. In one of the other forums is was commented that all in one type things don't tend to work as well however.

- added - apparently this 801.11b wired or wireless one also has 'Pre-Shared Key (WPA-PSK)'. Didn't see that before. If I can post the link here - is there something I missing? Or just don't understand about it? This sounds pretty good to me: [netgear.com...]


1:36 am on Oct 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Hi again Trisha! ;)

802.11b and 802.11g are the two principal types of wireless protocol. 11b transmits at 11 megabits per second; 11g at 54mps. The 108mps you refered to is also known as Super C. AFAIK, you must use a router and card from the same manufacturer to use the Super C. That's not true of the 11b and 11g (though you may get better throughput if that's the case). 11g is backwards compatible with 11b, but at the slower speed.

Depending on the types of networks you will connect to, NAT, SPI and VPN capabilities can be handy. If you just connecting to the internet, and not to a corporate intranet over the internet, they're not as essential.

WPA is what protects your data going from the wireless computer to the router. Without it (or some version of encryption) your broadcasting all of your data to anyone who wants to listen in. WPA by itself involves an setting up an authentication server. WPA-PSK is a simplified and more user-friendly version of WPA which doesn't need the server and is much easier to set up.

You might also hear about WEP. It's a much weaker version of encryption. Hold out for the WPA-PSK.

Hope that helps.


4:10 pm on Oct 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

If you just connecting to the internet, and not to a corporate intranet over the internet, they're not as essential.

Why is that? Because it is more secure?

It sounds like I can rule out the 108 Mbps then. So then it comes down to a decision between the wired one or the one that is wired or wireless.

I can think of two things involved with that decision:

1 - If you have one that can be used wired or wireless and you are using it wired - are there any extra security concerns because its has wireless capabilities? Or interference problems? That sounds silly, but it still has an antenna and so could still pick up other signals maybe or sending something out?

2 - If it is better to get one that is one or the other rather than both.


4:55 pm on Oct 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

WEP is no longer a security problem for modern hardware because the hardware no longer uses weak initialization vectors (IVs). Use a key length of at least 128bits, though.


5:47 pm on Oct 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It provides a secure "tunnel" through the internet to reach the coporate intranet. I don't know the technical details, so the analogy is the best I can do. If you're not connecting to a network at work, you've got nowhere to tunnel to. I think that even the low end ($50-100, cheaper with ubiquitous rebates) routers support that, so it probably won't be much of an either/or kind of decision.

I believe that a wireless router will only broadcast an "Is anyone there?" type signal until it receives a response. In theory someone could camp out on your sidewalk using your connection to access the internet. Or worse, they could access your wired computer if you are sharing any drives/folders on your computer. But again, setting your security options (and not just accepting the "wizard" defaults) should eliminate most of those concerns--they can never be eliminated completely.

I know you've been getting a lot of information on this, along with a lot of technical jargon. I think you'll find once you jump in it's not as big a deal as all of the acronyms make it seem.

My primary concern would be finding a wireless card that will work with your linux machine. I would assume that if the machine came with linux installed that it would have the required drivers for networking. And you'll find that there's not a huge price difference btween wireless and non-wireless routers. You can get both a wireless router and card for less than $100, and less than that with rebates from the big box (Best Buy, Circuit City) and office supply (Office Depot, Staples) stores.


6:49 pm on Oct 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I won't need to connect to a corporate intranet, but my husband may need to someday - just trying to think ahead for what needs I may have in the future.

I'm sure it will all make a lot more sense once I get one and set it up. I tend to over do learning about something before I make a decision, especially if it involves buying something.

I'll have to check my old emails, but I'm pretty sure I bought it with the driver installed, but I didn't get the card yet. I can always order it from them when I'm ready, and they will give me instructions on how to install it.

This just occured to me though - you don't need a card if you are using it wired though do you?


7:40 pm on Oct 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Depends if it has an ethernet port in installed. If it's newer than three or four years, chances are it has one. Just look for something that looks like a phone jack, only slightly wider.

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