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Security Reviews

VPN Features

The RV180 supports Remote and Site to Site VPN tunnels.  Remote tunnels are supported via PPTP and IPSec.  PPTP is not included in the RV120W, so it is nice to see in the RV180.  Remote IPSec can be established with Cisco's free QuickVPN client or with other IPSec client software.  I was able to use PPTP, QuickVPN, and Site to Site connections simultaneously.

I tested remote client access to the RV180 with PPTP and the QuickVPN client.  PPTP is the easier of the two options, as setup on the router involves checking a box to enable PPTP, adding a user name and password, and selecting PPTP as the protocol, shown below.

PPTP setup

Figure 6: PPTP setup

I like PPTP tunnels because the client software is built into Windows 7, and as I recently discovered, is also built into the Apple iPad.  Thus, there is no software to install on the end device.  I tested both devices with the RV180 and found each to work without issue.  Configuring Windows or an iPad for PPTP is quite simple.  Take a look at our recent review on the Zyxel VFG6005, where we've listed the steps for setting up a Windows PC and an Apple iPad for PPTP connections.

A small issue I had with the RV180 is a lack of a status screen for PPTP connections.  The only indicator on the RV180 of an active PPTP connection is a small section on its Dashboard.  As shown in Figure 7, the RV180 VPN Dashboard shows one active Site-to-Site tunnel, one PPTP User, and noQuick VPN Users. 

The Site-to-Site count is accurate, but the PPTP display is misleading and the Quick VPN display is incorrect.  The PPTP display is simply a count of users created in the RV180, not a status on the number of PPTP connections.  I found the dashboard showed one PPTP user whether the PPTP user was connected or not.

VPN Dashboard

Figure 7: VPN Dashboard

At the same time I took the above screen shot, I also had an active QuickVPN connection, although the dashboard showed no QuickVPN Users.  Fortunately, there is a specific status screen on the RV180 for QuickVPN user connections (Figure 8).

Quick VPN connection status

Figure 8: Quick VPN connection status

Configuring a QuickVPN connection on the RV180 is as simple as for PPTP.  It is a matter of adding a user name and password for the remote connection and selecting the QuickVPN option for the protocol.  The key difference is the QuickVPN software has to be installed on a PC.  The software is included on the disk that comes with the RV180, and is available for download on Cisco's website.  I had no trouble installing Cisco's QuickVPN on a Windows 7 Pro PC.

I found Site-to-Site configuration on the RV180 straightforward.  There are no VPN configuration wizards in the RV180, but there is a basic VPN configuration page for creating an IPSec VPN tunnel.  The basic configuration on the RV180 creates an IKE and VPN IPSec policy with default values including AES encryption and SHA-1 authentication.  These configurations are easy to edit via the advanced VPN configuration page.  All typical IPSec VPN options are supported, such as 3DES and AES encryption as well as MD5 and SHA-1 authentication, .

I had no problems setting up a 3DES/SHA-1 Site to Site tunnel between the RV180 and my usual site-to-site test device, a NETGEAR SRX5308 high performance VPN router.  With the correct configurations on both routers, the connection came up immediately.  Below is a screen shot of the established IPSec tunnel with the SRX.

IPsec connection status

Figure 9: IPsec connection status

VPN Performance

Cisco rates the RV180 capable of 50 Mbps for IPSec VPN throughput with either 3DES or AES encryption.  I measured the RV180's IPSec throughput with Cisco's QuickVPN software.

I tested the RV180's VPN performance with iperf using default TCP settings, with a TCP window size of 8 KB and no other options.  I ran iperf on two PCs running 64-bit Windows 7 with their software firewall disabled.  (Running a simple iperf throughput test between two PCs uses the command iperf -s on one PC and iperf -c (ip) on the other PC.)

Table 2 shows a VPN throughput table comparing the RV180 to the previously mentioned Cisco routers (RV120W, RV220W, RV042) as well as several other VPN routers I've reviewed in recent years.  Note, you can click on the model number listed in the table to go to the review for each device.

Product IPsec Throughput - (Mbps) PPTP Throughput (Mbps)
Client - Gateway Gateway - Client Client - Gateway Gateway - Client
RV180 39.7 50.9 5.98 6.49
RV120W 23.1 21.2 NA NA
RV220W 38.3 49.3 16.3 14.1
RV042 37.1 47.5 10.8 9.7
Draytek 2920 17.8 17.8 19.9 19.9
Netgear FVS318N 33.1 45.8 NA NA
Zyxel VFG6005 5.9 5.6 10.8 6.54
TrendNet TW100 3.32 2.85 8.95 7.61
Table 2: VPN Performance comparison

The RV180's IPsec numbers of 39.7 Mbps client to gateway and 50.9 Mbps gateway to client put it at the top of the chart for all devices listed and are pretty close to Cisco's 50 Mbps rating.  However, I was surprised to see the RV180's PPTP numbers of 5.98 Mbps client to gateway and 6.49 Mbps gateway to client put it at the bottom of that ranking.

Nevertheless, ~6 Mbps of throughput is pretty reasonable for a remote connection.  More likely, the available bandwidth at the remote location (such as hotel, airport, coffee shop) will be less than 6 Mbps, meaning the PPTP connection will not be the limiting factor.

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