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LAN & WAN Reviews

Firewall, Port Mapping, & Filters

There has tended to be a lot of confusion about the merits of NAT vs. SPI firewalls, and most vendors have priced their SPI-based products at a slight premium to their NAT-based products.

Given it's extremely good bang for the buck, I think the 604 will basically put the nail in the coffin of the whole NAT-vs-SPI debate and expect we'll soon see SPI used in all SOHO routers, with no more price premium.

I was, frankly, surprised that D-Link packed as many firewall features as it did into the 604, given its precedent-setting price point. Suffice it to say that the 604 has a very nice set of firewall features, and you'll probably find that it will do what you need.

I've tried to show some of the key features in the screen shots below, but frankly, there are more features than I have the patience to create screen shots for! The only curious thing is the omission of Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) support, especially given that D-Link has been pretty aggressive in adding this to its new routers. UPnP's NAT Transversal feature would be a nice complement to the 604's flexible port forwarding features (even though I won't be a UPnP convert until Microsoft addresses UPnP's security issues).

I'm pleased to see that D-Link has added time controls to some of the filtering and port forwarding features. Even though you can only set one time period per feature, you can set the times for each filter set or virtual server separately, giving you some flexibility.

DI-604: Applications screen

Figure 2: Applications Settings
(click on the image for a full-sized view)

You can have ten single port to IP static mappings (Virtual Servers), and port ranges are handled separately via the Applications feature, which includes outbound triggers for dynamic port mapping. 20 Special Applications can be defined.

DI-604: Virtual Server screen

Figure 3: Virtual Server Settings
(click on the image for a full-sized view)

I was puzzled, though, by the inclusion of the Firewall Rules feature, since it can be confusing enough for those of us who have been messing with SOHO routers for awhile, let alone the first-time buyers who will be attracted by the 604's price.

DI-604: Firewall screen

Figure 4: Firewall Settings
(click on the image for a full-sized view)

The manual isn't much help in explaining when you use a firewall rule and when you use an IP filter, other than saying that "It works the same way as IP Filters with additional settings".

DI-604: IP Filter screen
Figure 5: IP Filter Settings
(click on the image for a full-sized view)

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