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LAN & WAN Reviews

Network Magic - Key Features

There are two major things that Network Magic has going for itself. Thing #1 is a service called Net2Go, which allows you to share your files outside of your little LAN and across the big bad Internet, via a Web browser and some sophisticated software. When it works it is pretty impressive, as basically the product will poke a port through your router and allow anyone with the right username and password to view your shared directory of files. When Net2Go works, it is a good and wonderful thing: how many of us have left files on our home PCs when we are at work and had to wait until we got home to retrieve them?

But Net2Go will only work with these routers and has been tested to work with only specific firmware versions listed. We were able to get it working with a more recent release on our Netgear and Linksys routers, however, but weren't able to get it working with an older US Robotics router. Now, granted this list is a rather long one of more than 100 devices, but still: if yours isn't on it, you won't be able to take advantage of this cool feature.

Thing #2 is a boost in security practices without too much need for understanding the underlying issues, including situations that you don't normally anticipate.

Let's take a look at two possible security scenarios. Scenario #1 is where you have two network adapters in your PC, such as a wired and wireless connection, and you are connected to both concurrently. In this case, you could have a shared folder that has files that you may not want the rest of the world (or the world that can access your wireless NIC) to know you have.

This situation is easy to encounter, especially in notebooks with built-in wireless, and before you can remember to fix it, you might not have realized that you have compromised your security by turning on your wireless NIC. Network Magic is very good at warning you of this situation and blocks your network shares with the warning message shown in Figure 3.

Network Magic - Security Warning

Figure 3: Security Warning
(click image to enlarge)

Scenario #2 is when you have set up a wireless AP on your network and don't realize that others, such as your neighbors, have connected to it. Again, a possible security compromise. Network Magic can alert you to who has joined your network (Figure 4), and you can track their comings and goings as an "intruder" if need be:

Network Magic - Wireless client monitor

Figure 4: Wireless client monitor
(click image to enlarge)

Given the frequency of unauthorized wireless "borrowing" and its potential for network security breaches, this feature alone could make Network Magic a very smart purchase!

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