Is it just a modem or a modem/router?

By KathyJ ยท 5 replies
Apr 18, 2009
  1. I have a Westell model A90-210030-04 modem. I am interested in buying a router for the hardware firewall but if I'm understanding everything correctly that I've been reading about it online, I will have a problem. From what I understand, this modem has a router in it but it doesn't have the firewall. According to what I've been reading, if this is true, the two routers will have conflicts. I have searched online but haven't found anything that gives a definite answer. Does anyone know the answer to this? Does this modem have a router in it? And if so, is another router just asking for trouble? Thanks for your time!
  2. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,158   +986

    yes, no and maybe -- here's the scoop.

    First, you really want the software firewall on every PC connected; the XP/SP2 and Vista FWs are ok but COMODO and Sunbelt Personal FW 4 give you more control.

    Second, the Modem is a DSL modem so your ISP connection is over the phone line.
    A better choice (if available in your area) would be Verizon FiOS or any Cable company.

    Third, you can always add a router->router connection; here's how
    modem(without internal router)---(wan)Router#1(lan-ports)--- your systems
    If you need more connections or want WiFi you can expand this to be
    modem(without internal router)---(wan)Router#1(lan-ports)---(lan#1)[B]Router#2[/B](3x-lan ports)--- your systems
    In router#2, disable DHCP and the device acts like a switch. if it has WiFi -- great, router# will provide the DHCP service for ALL connections.

    What if the modem already has a router? Just drop Router#1 from the diagram :)
  3. KathyJ

    KathyJ TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 59

    Thank you jobeard for your reply. I hate to admit it but I'm as dumb as dumb can be when it comes to routers so I'm afraid I don't understand exactly your explanation concerning router #1, etc. I've never had one before so I am very green. What I was wanting to do was install a router for the hardware firewall and use one of the free firewall software programs on my computer. As for Verizon FiOS or any Cable company, I'm afraid none of them are available in this area. It sounds like we live in the "boonies" but we don't. Cable comes up so far on both sides of us but then stops before it gets here so I'm afraid that's not an alternative for us but thanks for your suggestions anyway. :)
  4. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,158   +986

    That's ok -- that's why we're here!
    hmm; big misconception of most people. The big corporate hardware vendors (eg Cisco) have hardware firewalls, but for home users, we only get two major features:
    1. NAT: Network Address Translation. This is the feature that allows multiple PCs to share the same ISP connection. Your ISP Subscription creates one Public IP address to your modem. The 'router' then first creates a LAN subset using DHCP and Private address for each PC. NAT then maps PC address onto the Public IP address so your requests to the Internet can get back to the same PC that made the request.

      A secondary side-effect of NAT is the fact that it is difficult for an Internet hacker to get access to your PC (ignore the software firewall for the moment) unless you first make a request to some Public site.
    2. SPI: Statefull Packet Inspection. This is a really cool feature which insures that traffic thru the router starts with packet # 1 and that it is properly formatted. If #1 is not seen or the packet malformed, it is dropped to protect the system from trying to process junk (a major form of injection).
    good enough :)
    You can purchas something that's not available :)
  5. KathyJ

    KathyJ TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 59

    Are you saying that my software firewall is giving me adequate protection? I do online banking with the following free programs: ZoneAlarm ver., Avast virus version 4.8 home edition and SuperAntiSpyware ver. 4.26.1000. I keep these programs updated. I was using Comodo ver. but I made the mistake of updating to ver. 3 and then trouble began. I use RoboForm password manager and it caused so many problems with it. I went to their support site and found that many more were having this problem without a fix at the time so that's when I uninstalled it and started trying out other free ones and decided on Zonealarm. I had read about so many people that were using routers as hardware firewalls and then using the free software firewalls on their computers and I had just thought I would give it a try. But, the more I read about routers and my dsl modem, the more confused I became. As long as I am getting enough protection, I don't care if I have a router or not. Good, adequate protection is all I'm interested in. I appreciate your help and your opinions. Thanks again! :)
  6. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,158   +986

    I was a BIG advocate of Comodo with v2 -- and V3 cause me so much pain I dropped it and switched to Sunbelt PF 4 ...
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