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Linksys 10/100 8-Port VPN Router

At a Glance
Product Linksys 10/100 8-Port VPN Router (RV082)
Summary Dual-WAN router with built-in 8 port switch and 50 tunnel IPsec endpoint
Pros • Excellent price vs. value
• Very high IPsec tunnel throughput
Cons • Limited flexibility in setting DHCP server subnet mask

The Linksys 10/100 8-Port VPN Router is an extension of the popular Linksys router line, but adds some higher-end features that make it suitable for bigger tasks than just hooking up your home to the Internet. Like most any router, it lets multiple computers in your office share an Internet connection, but two things set the RV082 apart from your standard router:

As its name indicates, the RV082 supports VPN functions. Sure, most Linksys routers support VPN pass-through, where a virtual private networking tunnel slips through the router on its way into the network, but the Linksys RV082 also allows VPN tunnels to be terminated on the router itself.

This eliminates the need to have a dedicated box elsewhere in the network to handle the termination of the VPN tunnels. More importantly it means that traffic terminated at the router gets the benefit of being checked at the firewall instead of going right through it. If a VPN tunnel terminates inside the network, the traffic has already gone through the firewall without being checked. Not a problem if you have complete trust in the system on the other side of the tunnel, but most of us security folks are just not the trusting type. I prefer to have all inbound traffic checked at the firewall before it gets inside my network.

The RV082 supports up to 50-simultanious encrypted tunnels through the Internet, allowing up to 50 remote offices or traveling users to securely connect from off-site. This number, 50 VPN tunnels, is pretty impressive for a device in its price category, since most VPN/firewalls usually provide support for only 10 users before you have to buy additional VPN licenses.

Another interesting feature is that the RV082 lets you connect a second Internet line as a backup to insure that you're never disconnected from your vital link to the Internet. Should one link fail, the other link is capable of keeping you hooked to the net. Of course this assumes that you have something like a cable modem and a DSL connection or two of each.

As useful as that is, the RV082 has another surprise up its sleeve, which is that it can also use both Internet ports at the same time, and let the router balance the traffic. The RV082 may not be particularly intelligent as a load balancer, but you can enter some basic numbers about how much bandwidth you want to use as a watermark and if the bandwidth exceeds that number the next connection goes out on the alternate link. Not exactly the 16-flavors of load balancing you'd get with a BigIP or an Alteon, but not a bad idea for a device with a street price around $275 (as of this writing).

To top it off, the Linksys RV082 also has a stateful packet inspection firewall to help protect network against intruders. Stateful inspection means that the firewall "looks" to see what connections have been opened from the inside of the network to the Internet, and if there is an open connection associated with the packet that has just arrived then it will be allowed through, otherwise it will be dropped. The firewall can also be configured to filter internal users' access to the Internet.

OK, enough with the introductions, let's see how easy it is to set up and operate.

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