Colubris adds security to wireless LANs

Product review: CN1050 offers built-in VPN functions to validate users and devices

Despite the obvious lure of wireless networks, security concerns have so far severely limited their adoption by federal agencies and departments. As a result, wireless vendors are hurriedly trying to arrive at a new standard for wireless local-area networks that offers higher performance and greater security.

In the meantime, Colubris Networks Inc. offers the CN1050, a wireless access point that provides the highest level of security we've found in a product that employs the widespread 802.11b standard.

The major difficulty with wireless networks is, of course, the fact that the traffic takes place over a medium that is especially vulnerable to unauthorized access. Therefore, the best way to secure traffic is to isolate the flow of data by means of a virtual private network (VPN). Unlike most wireless access points, the CN1050 offers built-in VPN support. What's more, the CN1050 employs the IP Security (IPSec) Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) to further fortify VPNs.

The CN1050 allows you to use the usual wireless security methods, such as blocking broadcast of the access point station identifier and enabling Wired Equivalent Privacy. Because both methods are relatively easy to subvert, any agency or department concerned about the security of its networks will want to take advantage of the CN1050's advanced security features. Specifically, we haven't found a better method for securing wireless access than the CN1050's built-in VPN support. Up to 50 VPN clients can be accommodated per access point.

There are a host of configuration options, but most users will want to deploy Triple Data Encryption Standard IPSec over L2TP using X.509 digital certificates. We recommend using L2TP in addition to IPSec because L2TP also validates users, adding an additional layer of security.

Alternatively, you can use point-to-point tunneling protocol or external VPN and Radius servers. You can also manually enter users into the CN1050, employing shared keys and Microsoft Corp. Windows security policies. Unless you configure things otherwise, the CN1050 rapidly handles all encryption/decryption onboard.

For added security, the CN1050 also includes its own customizable firewall that allows you to control incoming and outgoing traffic according to individual ports, protocols and IP addresses.

We found the CN1050's Web-based management tool refreshingly straightforward and easy to understand and navigate. As you would expect with any decent router, the CN1050 offers network address translation (to shield IP addresses) and Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol server capabilities, as well as the ability to relay DHCP requests to another server. We recommend against using DHCP in sensitive installations, however, because it makes it easier for intruders to gain access to the network. It is far better to assign static IP addresses to wireless clients on the local subnet.

In addition to making configuration changes easy, the management tool also offers extensive reports, making it simple to track activity. We were also pleased to find that the CN1050 offers Simple Network Management Protocol support, including customizable alerts. The only significant gripe we have with the Web-based management tool is that it doesn't offer any help files.

Measuring roughly 6 by 11 by 3 inches, the CN1050's case is a bit on the bulky side, though we did find it well-designed for easy access to the three ports: power, network and direct connection to the Internet. The unit comes without an antenna, though one is available as an option to expand the coverage area.

At first glance, the CN1050 might seem more expensive than other top-flight wireless access points. At $799, it's certainly at the top of the spectrum. But when you add in the cost of firewalls and VPN gateways to get the same level of security, the overall cost of using other access points rises quickly, revealing the CN1050 as the bargain it is for those who need secure wireless networks.

REPORT CARD

Colubris CN1050

Score: A

Colubris Networks Inc.

(781) 684-0001

www.colubris.com

The CN1050 costs $799.

The CN1050 is easy to set up and manage. More importantly, thanks to its built-in firewall and virtual private network support, the CN1050 offers sorely needed security for wireless networks.

We tested the CN1050 on a Federal Computer Week test center network, which employed a Hewlett-Packard Co. ProLiant ML350 server running Microsoft Corp.

Windows 2000 Server, and HP XW5000 workstations and Compaq Evo desktops as clients. We employed a variety of 802.11b adapters, including devices from Cisco Systems Inc., D-Link Systems Inc. and Proxim Inc. We also tested the device running in conjunction with a Cisco Aironet 350 access point.

NEXT STORY: Former Navy official joins Booz

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.