If you are looking at an internet-sharing product to protect your SOHO from the dangers present on the Internet, then you need a firewall. There are software solutions … either added on or built into the operating system … but then you must be sure that the software is always running when you are sharing your connection. An easy and reliable solution is a hardware based firewall (sometimes called gateway) that will protect your network but will also allow your broadband connection to be shared to other computers.
There are many solutions on the market that range from basic featured home units to those with higher performance and more advanced features. The Nexland Pro100 firewall has some very advanced features that will meet the needs of the most advanced users such as a need to run a VPN (virtual private network) through the firewall to your office network. Keeping your corporate network secure means not just the local network secure, but the small branch offices or telecommuters working from home that connect up to your system.
Setup of the Pro 100 unit was quite easy thanks to the well laid out manual and web setup pages for configuring the unit. An example is shown below.
NAT firewalls translate the private network address of your computer to the one public address of your ISP thus enabling up to 253 computers to share the connection and allowing only the services (ports) you want to be exposed to the Internet.
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Problems occur when you attempt to connect a VPN to another network through a NAT device as the security mechanisms that are used encrypt your internet packet inside a public packet (tunnels) also make sure the addresses stay the same and will not work. The Nexland Pro product line incorporates NAPT technology that allows the VPN protocols Ipsec and PPTP to pass through the firewall thus keeping the connection secure.
There are other applications that were not designed to work through NAT products but they will work on the Pro 100 such as NetMeeting. Another nice feature is dynamic DNS support so that you can have a local server on a dynamic Internet connection (lowest cost). The DNS servers resolve your URL www.mydomain.com to your public IP number and are updated when your IP connection changes.
Also included is a 10-user license of Symantec raptormobile VPN client.
There are many other features packed into these units that should meet the needs of the most demanding users including units with 4 or 8 ports as well as a unit with an 802.11B wireless device.
I was quite impressed with the Pro 100 compared to other units in the price range. You may not need all of these features for the price ($209US) you be hard pressed to beat it.
Also available in Canada (see http://www.nexlandcanada.com )