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Author Topic: Why do I need a router?  (Read 1402 times)

holt

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Why do I need a router?
« on: June 06, 2019, 10:15 PM »
When I got my new laptop, I unthinkingly connected it to the Internet via my old router which my old PC needed.
Today my old router died, then revived, then died again.
I called our ISP Help Desk, and tomorrow their service rep is coming to bring a new router and $9.99/mo 2/yr service contract for me to sign.
But...I just unplugged my Internet cable from the dead router and plugged it directly into the new laptop.
I was asked if I wanted my laptop to be 'seen' by 'other PCs on this network' (my home), with a recommendation to choose 'Yes', so I did.
So now I'm getting on the Internet just fine.
So...why do I need a router?
"This is the best bad idea we have, sir. By far." (cf. 'Argo' (2012))

x16wda

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Re: Why do I need a router?
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2019, 05:25 AM »
There are right now hundreds of script kiddies scanning the public address space you are on, looking for any kind of a response. Once a response is found, it triggers whatever exploit kits they have bought or found, which try out every known way to get through software design bugs and into your system. They either want to track your activity and find your banking passwords, encrypt your files and demand payment, and/or drop software on your PC to send porn or mine bitcoins.

If you have any defect, even momentary, in your software protection, and you temporarily leave the door ajar, then you can be a victim. Of course, that might not happen... your system could work perfectly, and MS updates might not have any new defects going forward. Just saw the D-Day programs and I'm thinking of the German fortifications along Normandy, imposing stuff but with persistence you recall it was breached. Script kiddies are very persistent. But you can purchase a cheap router for easily under $50 and that adds another layer of protection, and it is locked down enough to make it quite a bit more difficult to breach.

Just as an aside, I  put a modem on my Dad's pc many years ago (probably early 80's), after installing the new thing - a "software firewall" that called itself ZoneAlarm. Even on a 14.4 modem, it took less than 12 minutes for the first intrusion attempt hits to be logged. Don't think for a minute they've stopped.
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Stoic Joker

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Re: Why do I need a router?
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2019, 07:23 AM »
What IP Address did the ISP's router assign to your laptop? If it is a private range address (like 192.168.x.x) then you are fine. If it is a public range IP Address, then the above is quite dangerously true.

wraith808

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Re: Why do I need a router?
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2019, 08:09 AM »
What IP Address did the ISP's router assign to your laptop? If it is a private range address (like 192.168.x.x) then you are fine. If it is a public range IP Address, then the above is quite dangerously true.

This.  And if you're connected directly, I have no question that it's a public range.  The router serves as a buffer between you and the internet, and most (all?) include a hardware firewall.  Don't trust your local one on this.  I'd not be surprised if something hasn't already hit your laptop if you don't have a firewall installed.  And if you do, I'd still not be surprised.  I did it one time because I didn't believe that the reports were true of just how much bad stuff was out there.  I took a decommissioned laptop and connected it directly.  It was amazing at how little time it took to be attacked. 

If you're reading this right now on that laptop, disconnect.  Wait until you get a router.  Then thoroughly check to make sure that nothing is on there.  You can also buy your own (they don't really tell you that) and skip the monthly fee in exchange an up-front cost.

holt

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Re: Why do I need a router?
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2019, 09:46 AM »
Wow, looks like I asked the right question; many thanks, and sorry about the 'duh' factor. I have an old -as in about 10 or 15 years- "Intellinet wireless LAN router with 4 port and 10/100 switch". I once had it hooked up but somehow over time it ended up back in its box neglected on a shelf. So I plugged in power, input, and output cables and plugged the output into my new laptop--and it works! No setup or anything, just pure plug & play. The ISP tech guy came and picked up the old leased dead router; he said my Intellinet router's 10/100 speed matches up with my ISP connection speed. I don't know about if it's 'connected directly' or otherwise, but I seem to remember the sales guy telling me when I originally bought it, all about the extra layer of protection which the router provided; it sounded similar to what you people are telling me now.
"This is the best bad idea we have, sir. By far." (cf. 'Argo' (2012))
« Last Edit: June 07, 2019, 10:04 AM by holt »

Shades

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Re: Why do I need a router?
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2019, 10:18 AM »
Regarding hardware:
Especially with cable (TV) connections, ISP's can have some issue with a store bought modem/router device, instead of the modem/router device they themselves provide. Frequency ranges not being exactly how they want it or something like that, was the explanation of the tech who installed it at work (only type of connection available at that location).

But with ADSL/VDSL connections (land-line) ISP's don't care. Just fill in the correct values for your store-bought modem/router to communicate with their hardware and you are golden. Have done that myself several times.

Now there is a fiber connection in my home and I have not seen a place yet where I could buy a consumer modem/router for fiber connections here in Paraguay, if the need would arise.


Regarding risk:
What the previous posters already said. It is very dangerous to connect any computer directly. There are many 'script kiddies' who scour public addresses continuously for any "kink in any armor" and when found, attack it mercilessly until they are through. As Windows is very popular operating system, there are many 'kinks" known and unknown for it that those people will make use of to make your system a bot, fill it with ransomware or virus. Using popular operating systems makes it easier for their nefarious purposes and/or ill gotten gains.

However, if you are hell bent on connecting this way, you better have a spare PC with at least 2 network cards available and install OPNSense or pfSense on that device. Those are software firewalls, running on a hardened version of the FreeBSD operating system. While no operating system is absolutely safe, the BSD operating systems come closer to that goal than other OS's.

Connect your ISP's line directly onto this firewall device and use the second network card to connect to your laptop or switch, if you need more devices connected. This type of firewall is much more competent at warding off attacks than a software firewall on Windows could. Default settings on bot OPNSense and pfSense are already pretty strict, so the don't require much work if your needs are simple.

Still, it is better to wait for a modem/router from your ISP, that is the safer option. But if it is an option and the budget allows for it, pay the full amount for their new device upfront. That monthly paying crap is costing you more on the long term.

ISP's that I have used in the Netherlands and here in Paraguay never charged me for such a "service" of theirs. Whenever I had a broken device of them, it was always exchanged for free. One time because of a lightning strike nearby and another time because I had an old device that wouldn't be able to handle the higher speeds that the ISP was about to offer me.

holt

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Re: Why do I need a router?
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2019, 06:14 PM »
I was asked if I wanted my laptop to be 'seen' by 'other PCs on this network' (my home), with a recommendation to choose 'Yes', so I did.
But I don't really have a 'network', just my laptop. Should I reset this 'local network' to 'no'? If so, how do I access it to do this?
"This is the best bad idea we have, sir. By far." (cf. 'Argo' (2012))

Shades

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Re: Why do I need a router?
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2019, 08:41 PM »
In Windows 10, go to:
Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Network and Sharing Center\Advanced sharing settings

There you can disable all sharing settings (file sharing, printer sharing etc.). In your case, I would disable all sharing settings in every network profile (Public, Private), as your laptop is the only computer in your home. But you really should limit accessing the Internet without the router device from your ISP. Even physically disconnecting the laptop from this network setup you created, when you don't need access to the Internet.   

IainB

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Re: Why do I need a router?
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2019, 11:08 PM »
Years ago I trialled a firewall - "BlackHawk" or something I think it was called - that was not only good at being a firewall, but also monitored and logged all the attack pings received and sent back a query to each one requesting further IP address information (I forget what exactly). In other words, it started probing the attackers.
I thought it was a novel idea, but ultimately unproductive, so I disabled that bit, though it did waste attackers' time/resources, which seemed fair.
It was surprising to see in real time how rapidly the attack pings started to roll in when one started up a connection. The logs could become huge. One of the downsides of computerised automation, I suppose.

holt

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Re: Why do I need a router?
« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2019, 02:10 PM »
But you really should limit accessing the Internet without the router device
I think I've shut off Public & Private, but you say 'But you really should limit accessing the Internet without the router device...' I'm not sure if or how to do that, as I saw no option for it. Otherwise, it's smooth sailing so far.

Years ago I trialled a firewall - "BlackHawk" or something I think it was called - that was not only good at being a firewall, but also monitored and logged all the attack pings received and sent back a query to each one requesting further IP address information (I forget what exactly). In other words, it started probing the attackers.
I thought it was a novel idea, but ultimately unproductive, so I disabled that bit, though it did waste attackers' time/resources, which seemed fair.
It was surprising to see in real time how rapidly the attack pings started to roll in when one started up a connection. The logs could become huge. One of the downsides of computerised automation, I suppose.
Yes, it's a bit like the films Cujo or Old Yeller where the rabid dog is clawing at the shaking barrier and trying to get at you. My explanations to my wife seemed a bit dull, until I explained 'zero day viruses' and that some viruses are like mice or rats while others are like a Velociraptor or Tyrannosaurus Rex; although even a 'rat'' can spoil your whole day.
edit: Zer0Day (2016) and book; Countdown To Zero Day.
"This is the best bad idea we have, sir. By far." (cf. 'Argo' (2012))
« Last Edit: June 08, 2019, 05:20 PM by holt »

holt

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Re: Why do I need a router?
« Reply #10 on: June 24, 2019, 05:30 PM »
 It seemed appropriate somehow to include this political cartoon, as a token of my current state of mind.  :P
"This is the best bad idea we have, sir. By far." (cf. 'Argo' (2012))
« Last Edit: June 24, 2019, 08:32 PM by holt »