Router/Firewall help ... what are they?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by davidhw, May 7, 2008.

  1. davidhw macrumors newbie

    May 7, 2008
    Hi all.

    I just bought a refurb MacBook Pro from Apple. I'm very happy with it. In the process of talking to a experienced computer-techie friend, he asked me what kind of firewall and router I was using with it.

    I had no idea what he was talking about.

    I've had a cable modem that I just hooked directly into my old eMac via Ethernet. He couldn't believe I left it open like that. I told him I had the firewall "on" but he said I needed a "hardware firewall" or something.

    I've looked at guides and looked at CNET and similar places, but I'm still fuzzy on what it is I need. Could someone just tell me what I need to purchase to have this "broadband router" thing? And if it's a "wireless" router, does that mean I can move around the house with my laptop?

    Sorry for the ignorance. I looked at some threads here before posting, but I'm still overwhelmed.

  2. steeler macrumors regular

    Jan 30, 2008
    What to buy: I suggest the Linksys WRT54GL, but the Apple Airport Base Station will also work fine. Either will allow you to connect in a wired fashion to the router or connect wirelessly and access the internet from other places in the house using your MBP. Your signal reception in different areas can vary depending on your home's construction and your distance from the wireless router.

    Here's a little more information, about networking...

    Router - A device (box) that can have one or multiple ethernet sockets and/or a wireless transmiter (for wireless networking). In home use, it is placed between your cable or DSL modem and your internal computer network. (i.e. a cable runs from the cable/DSL modem to the router, then ethernet cable (or wireless) connection(s) to your computer(s). One example of a wireless router is the linksys WRT54GL. Another is the Apple Airport Base Station.

    How this protects you: Once it's set up, the router acts as a barrier between the internet and your internal network. It's like a traffic cop that makes sure all your requests for web pages, e-mail, etc. get sent out to the cable modem properly. That traffic cop also will protect you from the "bad guys" who are trying to access your computer by connecting to it. It blocks those attempts unless you have told the traffic cop to allow them.
  3. davidhw thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 7, 2008

    That really helps, Steeler. Much more understandable than some of the resources I found on the web. When you're a newbie, you can *read* the information, but lacking the context of what's important and what's not it's easy to get overwhelmed.

    So basically I could just buy the WRT54GL or the Airport Extreme and that would be everything I need -- router and firewall, right?
  4. steeler macrumors regular

    Jan 30, 2008
    You would be very well protected with either one, but it needs to be set up correctly. The instructions with the Linksys were pretty good (when I got mine), but I don't know about the Apple Airport Base Station. Either way, if you're comfortable with it, ask your technical friend (or another technical friend) to help you set it up so it's secure.

    That should include changing the default router password and using WPA encryption (probably another password). Doing just those two things will make your home network more secure than about 75-80% of home wireless networks.

    Good luck!
  5. davidhw thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 7, 2008

    I saw a pretty good price on the Linksys WRT54GL so I'll go with that. Your advice is invaluable. Thank you.
  6. richard.mac macrumors 603


    Feb 2, 2007
    51.50024, -0.12662
    also when your finished connecting up the router, changing the default username and password and using WPA to encrypt your network if the router's wireless turn on the software firewall in OS X to be extra safe.

    to do this open Security in System preferences and under the Firewall tab either select "Allow only essential services" or "Set access for specific services and applications" (advanced).
  7. davidhw thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 7, 2008
    thanks again, but a problem

    I got the WRT54G2 today and had wireless set up within 5 minutes. Got to love Macs. :)

    However, per the security instructions I've read here, I wanted to change the name of the network from "linksys" to something else and re-set the password. Every time I do this, it accepts the changes but does not save them. Any thoughts?

    Perhaps a quick and dirty checklist anyone could provide on what I need to do to secure the router/firewall now would be in order? I'd be grateful to know I'm not missing anything.

    Thanks again so much.
  8. steeler macrumors regular

    Jan 30, 2008
    I've been away for a few days, and haven't been able to respond to your last post until now.

    I suggest the following:
    1. Go to, click on support and navigate your way to your router's support page. From there download the latest firmware for your router and follow the directions for updating the firmware.

    2. Go here: and at a minimum do steps 1, 3, and 7. The others all add to security, but those three provide the biggest benefit.

    I'm not sure why your password isn't saving. The firmware update might fix that problem. If not, make sure you're changing the password correctly (look at the user's guide).
  9. davidhw thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 7, 2008
    thanks steeler

    I got it figured out. I was trying to adjust the preferences and names on my Mac instead of on the administrative Linksys site. All is working peachy now, even after the Mac comes out of Sleep mode (which, I understand, is a problem for many with Leopard and Linksys?).

    Thanks again for all your help. As I told a friend the other day, "I ain't touchin' nothin' at this point!" LOL.

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