Router setup - how to hide your computer or network from hackers and
Quote testimony at US Congressional hearing on Cybersecurity:
"90% of cyber attacks could have been prevented by implementing basic "Best
Practices" by IT departments!"
Symantec Corp Global Government Affairs and Cybersecurity Policy VP
When is a router a cable/DSL modem? Well they can
be both or different. I am not here to confuse you but the terminology for these
devices varies with whom you talk to. So for the sake of simplicity I will call
it a Router, because that is what it does. It routes your network activity to
the World Wide Web or your local network.
Note: A router is a specialized hardware device.
You can not use a computer to make a router!
You can however use a computer to make a
firewall/proxy server. This is not the same as a router but a router can and
should have a firewall built in to it, if it does not exchange it for one that
So you decided that a dialup connection was to slow or you needed
and the local phone or cable company came by and installed your internet
That is fast! (Fast won't last long -
the computer axiom: What is fast today will be slow tomorrow!)
You get your mail in a flash, the web
page opens like it was there on your desk top all the time.
Now the hackers can see you!
Yup, as soon as the your
Service Provider) turned on your service and you connected to the www
the hackers can see your computer.
So what you going to do? I mean you have Windows and it has a
firewall right? Well yes and no..... XP/Vista/Windows 7 / 8 / 10's firewall is ok, but it has deficiencies, most software
firewalls do. When you want to keep the hackers/thieves/criminals at bay you
need a hardware solution, because hardware can do more than software.
So what can hardware do for me that MS can't? Well for one thing it can make
disappear from the www and the
hackers will lose interest in trying to get into your computer.
It can also
a Trojan (if you get infected by a virus) from calling home
and giving away your
So you say I need to buy another piece of equipment. No, you can rely on the
built in firewall that is provided by the OS. This is the same concept as a back
up: How much is your data and/or family's security worth? Besides routers are not
that expensive, less than $100.
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Now your have your router what is the next step?
Before you get carried away with excitement this is important: Your
connect Speed and Duplex have to match the router exactly! Check the
documentation on how to set the "Speed and Duplex" for your network card before
connecting to the router.
I will do the router setup step by step, I am going to use a Linksys router for my
examples because I have one and am familiar with the process of setting it up,
most if not all will have the same features, they may be named differently
(proprietary information) or be in different steps but ultimately will have a
process to do the job.
1) Connection - Depending on the router you have you will have two types of
connections on the back of the box. One should be labeled LAN and one should be
labeled WAN. (LAN is Local Area
Network - i.e. your house or business,
Wide Area Network - the connection to your ISP).
2) First locate the WAN connection, the cable from your DSL or Cable modem
will go here.
3) Locate the LAN connection(s) your computer(s) will connect here.
(Depending on the router you have you may have one or more LAN connection ports
- called RJ45 ports)
4) Connect your primary computer to a LAN connection, power up the router and
5) Open your browser, type in 192.168.1.1 (check your documentation for your
router if it is not a Linksys, the IP may be different.). Press enter, you
should get a box for a login. Enter the user id (if required) and the password
provided by the manufacture.
6) You should be at the main screen of the setup program. From here we will
setup your router to block all incoming ping, udp , and whois requests. (Make
your home or business invisible!)
Router setup status page:
For the most part all of the screens that you have available can
be changed but it is best to leave them at the default settings unless you have a need to
Before I go to the two screens of interest I will point out
that the status screen will be of interest to you from time to time. If you
look down towards the middle you will see the ip address that the ISP has
assigned your router, if you have not connected it to the WAN don't worry it
will be populated as soon as you do. It should be something like this:
|MAC Address: (00-a1-b5-f7-c3-e6)
If you look under this table you will see two buttons:
Router setup DHCP Release
and DHCP Renew
You can get a new IP address or release your current address and get a new
one if you are having connection problems.
To the actual pages that you need to modify, these pages are on the top row
of the header:
Router setup Password page:
Router Password: Change the default password here! Make it something you know
that the average person on the street would not know about you, something unique
that you will remember five days from now, or write it down if you use a complex
UPnP Services: Disable (This stops the Universal Plug and Play process
from connecting with out your knowledge)
Restore Factory Defaults: This is
good for when the router is not performing and you need to reset it, leave it at
'NO' for now. (Only change this if directed by the manufacture's tech support.)
Router setup DHCP page:
DHCP Server: 'Enable '
Starting IP Address: 192.168.1.X (you can add a number here to be the
first IP address the router will give out, say 50 or 100, anything above two.
Number of DHCP Users: 4 (set this to the maximum of computers you have connected
to the router physically, do not go over the number of connections. This will
preclude someone from connecting to your router with out your knowledge, and
believe me if they can they will!)
On the top of the page look for router setup Advanced Setup,
What we are interested in is at the bottom of the page:
Block WAN Request:
IPSec Pass Through:
PPTP Pass Through:
L2TP Pass Through:
Port Number: xxxx
Use default MTU:
Size: (Default value: PPPoE 1492, Static/Dynamic 1500)
I have highlighted the two that should be enabled and the
four that should
This is what makes your router and your computer
invisible: Block WAN Request.
IPSec pass through will play havoc with your browser and email leave
PPTP and L2TP are VLan ports unless you have reason to turn on
Router setup Remote Management, disable this,
only enable if you are taking to the manufactures tech support, they may want to
get into the router to download the diagnostics.
Use default MTU leave enabled this is for the default packet size for
data being sent out to the WAN. On some WAN's you can change this property to
increase or decrease the packet size of each request, this could either increase
or decrease your connect speed, use caution when modifying the MTU.
There are other items that are of interest to a more advanced user, such as
Filtering, you can use the built in help to read up on these. If you have a
child that uses the internet you can set a filter for either the software (NetNanny)
or the computer here.
Router setup Forwarding page:
Quote the page:
"UPnP Port Forwarding allows
Internet Users to access Servers
on your LAN. It
also allows you to configure two-way communications, Game Servers, and other
Internet applications with special requirements."
What this means to you is lets say you have a accounting package that
requires a certain port or ports to communicate with your bank. You can set a
range of ports say 1800 to 1900 or set single ports 1801 and 1901 for the
package. Only traffic from that package will go through those ports. Check your
software documentation or help files for any application that should connect to
the internet or specific host and does not.
That is all there is for you to do. Now if you are a tinker and want to do
more then I suggest you look at the built in help file and do a search on the
internet for 'Firewalls' and 'Proxy' there is a ton of information
about what application uses what port or what port(s) the hackers like the best and
Reset the router -
Linksys routers (and switches or hubs) have a small reset button on the back of
the router. Using a ball point pen or a very small screw driver you can reset
the router to factory defaults by pressing the button and holding it in for
about ten seconds. The router must be powered up for this to take effect. The
best way to reset the router to factory defaults is to use the router setup web page.
If you are setting up a Wireless Router you need to check
important page for the router setup about securing your wireless
router and wireless adapters! Most Important!
Note: Users with XP, Vista,
and Windows 7/8/10 should read the
Windows Firewall Service page
for more information.
Over the last five or six months I have
been getting emails asking for a recommendation when this page is read. I have
been using Linksys (Cisco Co.) products for a long time I can attest to the
robustness of their products so I will recommend two products that I use
everyday and in over seven years (yes my router and switches are that old!) I
have not had one failure.
Note: In the
Advanced Computer Repair Techniques Servers section there is an article
about a router setup for a DMZ (click
here) to have a web server outside your router firewall, check the image I made
of what a typical setup would look like, just disregard the section that is
the DMZ, with a cable/DSL modem and a home/small business router you would
have TWO firewalls between your computer/network and the internet.
Increased protection against being hacked!