Mulberry Telecommunications

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Tech Talk (Vol 16)

Wireless routers revisited

More and more frequently we are getting calls about issues with their Internet. Normally the first thing you ask is if they have a wireless router. Yes? OK, bypass your router and plug your PC directly into our Internet link/Ethernet cable. More often than not, it starts working like it is supposed to. Why? You say you just spent a lot of money on that router. They told you it was the best.

The best? The best for them. The one they have the most of and make the most profit from. It's sales 101. You are the un-informed consumer hoping to get good advice from the saleman. Yeah, right. Did you research it yourself? They say they sell a lot of them. That still doesn't make them any good. The box says it "goes farther and goes faster". They all say that. Every single one of them.

Here's an example... we install service recently. Their downloads were really bad. If they hooked their laptop directly to our cable, worked great. Via their wireless router (linksys). Baaad. The customer researched it themselves and found a setting in the wireless router called "media prioritization". It is supposed to be some type of QoS (quality of service) feature that give priority over traffic, devices and type. Unfortunately, it criples all traffic not on its priority list. Linksys was purchased from Cisco by Belkin a couple years ago. Belkin and Linksys has always been my 1 and 2 of routers never to buy.

All these home routers are full of bugs. Every one of them. Some worse than others. Some significantly worse. Some bugs are a deal breaker. There is a website, routersecurity.org, that publishes the flaws in these routers. Reading through this is is amazing how careless a lot of these manufacturers are designing the software for these routers.

What can you do? Keep your router up-to-date. Every vendor publishes new/updated software for their devices. Just like the updates for Windows, most of the updates available are to fix a flaw. Some are easy to upgrade, some not so much. Rule number one... upgrade your router to the latest code available. If you don't know how, find someone that does.

As I have mentioned in the past, how the Internet works is flawed in so many ways. If they only had a chance to start over they would have designed it totally different. As more devices, software and services are developed, it gives the evil-doers more opportunity to do what they do best. Find flaws. Exploit the innocent. Steal. Don't be the victim. Keep your software and devices up to date. Keep an antivirus/firewall on and up-to-date. Anything you see on the net to good to be true, is to-good-to-be-true. Beware.

Finally, we have been getting calls from customers recently They say they got a call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft (or similiar) stating that you have a virus and they can fix it for you. They sound convincing. They won't do it for nothing. You need to give them a credit card number. Don't do it. It's a scam. No one would EVER call you like that. NEVER. NEVER.