Home broadband routers are remarkably complex devices that few ever take the time to truly understand. As long as the lights are blinking, and webpages load, most people are inclined to leave them be. The few brave souls who venture into the firmware are often rewarded with a maze of menus that betray the true complexity of these underappreciated appliances. Wireless channels, security modes, and even port forwarding can be frustrating concepts for those without a networking background, but are absolutely critical to understanding how to optimize your home network. In this guide we will teach you the finer points of security, as well as give you surefire ways to boost your router's wireless range and optimize performance. Why are Routers so Important
When most people think about online security, they often assume virus scanners, spyware detectors, and even firewall software are the most important weapons to level against those who would seek to exploit their machines. In reality, the router is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal, and it rarely gets the credit it deserves. If you actually took the time to look at the raw data coming in through your broadband connection, you would be shocked at just how much background noise is constantly bombarding your machines. Unpatched PCs from around the world form sprawling bot nets designed to spew forth exploits both old and new in hopes of finding vulnerable targets.
Prior to the days of Windows XP SP2, machines plugged directly into the internet would often fall prey to these exploits, and would become infected simply because they were left on, and were connected to the internet. With the introduction of the firewall in SP2 the world literally changed. Windows now comes with this feature on by default, and drops unsolicited traffic coming into your connection. The Windows firewall isnít perfect, but it was still a huge improvement.
Think of your router as an upgrade on this basic concept, and in reality, it makes for one of the most powerful firewalls money can buy. Forming an invisible barrier between you and the net, routers drop incoming packets that you werenít expecting, and is much less vulnerable to exploits that would seek to poke holes in your defenses. A good router not only drops incoming packets, but it also refuses to acknowledge that an active connection even exists. This simple, but powerful difference between routers, and many software firewalls, provides that extra bit of security that can mean the difference between a virus poking around on your machine, or moving on. The Windows firewall is still important, but these days it should only be used as a secondary line of defense.