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Security Reviews

Features

This is my first TRENDnet product and it was easy to work with.  Configuration is all done via web browser and the menus are relatively intuitive and well organized.  The user manual is also useful, with decent explanations and examples. However, a glaring omission, particularly for a security router, is that administration via HTTPS is not supported.

There are three high-level options in the TW100 menu, including Status, Wizard, and Configuration.  The Status and Wizard screens are basic, providing information about the router's current status and easy config guidance for the WAN port and device password. Clicking the Configuration link takes you to the Basic Setting page shown in Figure 4.

Configuration Basic Setting page

Figure 4: Configuration Basic Setting page

From here, the device is managed via five main menus with 3-10 submenus each.  I've laid out the configuration options in the table below. There is also an online emulator, which you can use to test drive the interface before buying. (Ignore the Wireless Status portion of the online emulator's Status page—the TW100 does not support wireless.)

TRENDnet TW100-BRV214 menu summary

Figure 4: TRENDnet TW100-BRV214 menu summary

Before I dive into detailing some of the TW100's features, there is a summary in Figure 5 to give you a general feel.

TRENDnet TW100-BRV214 feature summary

Figure 5: TRENDnet TW100-BRV214 feature summary

Network security on the TW100's firewall is organized into four functions:  Packet Filtering; Content Filtering; MAC Address Control; and Traffic Control.

Packet Filtering on the TW100 can be applied on both inbound and outbound traffic.  Rules are constructed based on source IP, destination IP, layer 4 port, and protocol (TCP or UDP).  Once constructed, rules can be saved and enabled or disabled with a single click.  Up to 8 inbound and outbound rules can be created and schedules (100 user-programmable) can be applied.

I successfully created a basic rule to block outbound traffic to a specific device in my network.  The rule worked, but there wasn't an error message or indication to the user explaining why the website did not come up. Instead, you'll get your browser's "can't reach the Internet" message, like the one in Figure 6 that IE threw to me.

Browser error due to outbound packet filter

Figure 6: Browser error due to outbound packet filter

Other routers I've tested have a simple web page that tells end users why they couldn't get to a specific site, such as the NETGEAR FVS318G that  displays a page “Website blocked by NETGEAR Firewall.”  This lack of a message could lead to end users reporting problems.

Content Filtering on the TW100 can be applied to 10 URLs or to 10 keywords found in the URL or web page.  Traffic to these URLs can be dropped, logged, or both.

I set up a simple URL blocking rule to block access to smallnetbuilder.com, shown in Figure 7.  Setting up the rule was easy and it worked, but again there wasn't any message displayed explaining the block.

URL filter example

Figure 7: URL filter example

Overall, content filtering on the TW100 works, but is quite basic.  If you're looking to ensure that end users aren't surfing porn or other undesired websites, you'll probably want a more robust solution, such as UTM device or a DNS-based service such as opendns.com.

Another security feature on the TW100 is up to 100 MAC addresses can be programmed to control which devices gain access to the TW100's network.  Adding MAC addresses into the MAC table is simplified by selecting devices from the TW100's DHCP table for entry.

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