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LAN & WAN Reviews

The Product, Continued

Figure 2 shows the back panel with the network and power connectors and a single mode switch. The Cable/DSL and PC RJ45 connectors are self-explanatory, while the AUX connector is where you can plug a computer or device that will bypass the protection afforded by the AlphaShield. Think of the AUX port as the equivalent of putting the attached device in DMZ on a typical NAT-based router.

The Mode switch's Lock and 15 positions both disconnect (via AlphaGAP) the attached device after 15 minutes of inactivity, with the difference between them being that the 15 position will retain the IP address leased from your ISP's DHCP server while the Lock position may release it.

If this is too much for you to figure out, just leave the switch at its default Auto setting, which has no idle timeout, or experiment with the Lock and 15 positions if you like the idea of the automatic 15 minute disconnect.

AlphaShield rear view title=

Figure 2: AlphaShield rear view

In all modes, you'll have to press the blue Connect button that forms the left side of the "S" to get the AlphaShield to let you connect to the Internet and the grey Disconnect button should you want to immediately terminate your Internet connection or at the end of your Internet session in the Auto mode. The middle Connection LED glows red when you're not connected, but since I'm red / green color challenged, I'd would have preferred it to also slowly blink when the AlphaShield takes you offline.

In the end, I think the AlphaShield should be simple enough for its target non-technical user to install, either with or without help from the nicely illustrated and clearly written printed User Guide that comes with it. Although the typical installation will be between a cable or DSL modem and a single PC, AlphaShield also has a document (PDF) that shows the AlphaShield connected into other networking scenarios, including some with routers!

But all NAT-based routers provide simple, but effective blocking of unrequested inbound traffic, and virtually all current-generation routers add some level of Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI) on top of the NAT firewall. So I can't think of a scenario in which you'd need both an AlphaShield and NAT router, one right behind the other, protecting your LAN.

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