By Loyd Case  |  Posted 2003-01-03 Print this article Print

We looked at four routers for this review, two from D-Link, and one each from NetGear, and Linksys:
Product Street Price (as of 12.18.2002) Check Prices
D-Link DI-764 $240 check prices
D-Link DI-604 $45 check prices
LinkSys BEFSR81 $80 check prices
NetGear RP-614 $50 check prices
The overarching goal of our testing was less about performance than about security features and the ease of implementing them. For our testing, we first configured the routers to expose a game server to the rest of the world. We then port-scanned the router looking for open ports, which could be exploited by ill-intentioned crackers.
We configured each router as a DHCP server for internal clients, with a static IP WAN address hooked up to our labs T1 line. We then began our testing by using a well-established game, Unreal Tournament (UT), with all the latest patches (version 4.36) and UT Bonus Packs (one through four). We ran a standard deathmatch server on a machine that was behind each routers firewall with the Advertise Server flag enabled. We ran first with the routers default settings and checked to see if the server was visible via the Internet from a client machine on a different network segment. If the machine wasnt visible, we tried connecting directly to it using the "Open Location" command in UT. If this was unsuccessful, which in most cases it was, we then resorted to either putting the server in the routers DMZ (more on that in a bit), and then tried using whatever Port Forwarding features were available to us. We also evaluated Port Triggering if it was available. Once we had the server visible on UTs master server list, we then used the same client machine and ran the Win32 version of nMap, an open-source freely available port-scanning utility, and scanned the range of port addresses that UT uses to see if these ports were open. And finally, we looked at the visibility of Windows shares when running a box in the DMZ versus using port-forwarding. Now lets look at each individual router to see how it performed.

Loyd Case came to computing by way of physical chemistry. He began modestly on a DEC PDP-11 by learning the intricacies of the TROFF text formatter while working on his master's thesis. After a brief, painful stint as an analytical chemist, he took over a laboratory network at Lockheed in the early 80's and never looked back. His first 'real' computer was an HP 1000 RTE-6/VM system.

In 1988, he figured out that building his own PC was vastly more interesting than buying off-the-shelf systems ad he ditched his aging Compaq portable. The Sony 3.5-inch floppy drive from his first homebrew rig is still running today. Since then, he's done some programming, been a systems engineer for Hewlett-Packard, worked in technical marketing in the workstation biz, and even dabbled in 3-D modeling and Web design during the Web's early years.

Loyd was also bitten by the writing bug at a very early age, and even has dim memories of reading his creative efforts to his third grade class. Later, he wrote for various user group magazines, culminating in a near-career ending incident at his employer when a humor-impaired senior manager took exception at one of his more flippant efforts. In 1994, Loyd took on the task of writing the first roundup of PC graphics cards for Computer Gaming World -- the first ever written specifically for computer gamers. A year later, Mike Weksler, then tech editor at Computer Gaming World, twisted his arm and forced him to start writing CGW's tech column. The gaming world -- and Loyd -- has never quite recovered despite repeated efforts to find a normal job. Now he's busy with the whole fatherhood thing, working hard to turn his two daughters into avid gamers. When he doesn't have his head buried inside a PC, he dabbles in downhill skiing, military history and home theater.

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