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Thread: Home Network with 2 Computers Secure with Firewall. Is Networked Printer Secure?

  1. #1
    tryprotect Guest

    Default Home Network with 2 Computers Secure with Firewall. Is Networked Printer Secure?

    Hello,
    Although I am still running a 90 day trial of McAfee Security Center, I have already purchased ZASS and will install it as soon as the McAfee free trial expires.
    I only mention this in case it is important in answering my question.
    I have two Windows XP Home PCs set up on a home network.
    The 2 PCs are connected to a D-Link hub, and we share files between the computers.
    Until yesterday, the host PC had a printer connected via a parallel port.
    As of yesterday, we removed the old printer and connected a new printer directly to the network hub.
    Through the printer's utility program, we have assigned the printer an IP address, subnet mask and IP gateway that allows the printer to work in our network.
    The printer works fine from both PCs with the
    McAfee firewall enabled.
    My question is, since the printer connects directly to the network hub and is not behind the McAfee firewall, and the printer is considered a printer server, is the printer or either PC at risk from hackers?
    We do not have a hardware router or hardware firewall.
    I am just concerned that we are exposing ourselves by having the printer connected directly to the hub.
    This is exactly the connection I want, but should I do something to close any exposure there may be?
    Thank you in advance for sharing your expertise.

    Operating System:Windows XP Home Edition
    Product Name:ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Brisbane, Australia
    Posts
    645

    Default Re: Home Network with 2 Computers Secure with Firewall. Is Networked Printer Secure?

    The way you described your network doesn't quite add up. Can you please clarify how your network is put together? Are you sure it really is a "hub" you have, and not a "router"? Do you have a router on your network into which the hub is plugged? Please post the model number of your D-Link hub and we will be better placed to help you.

  3. #3
    tryprotect Guest

    Default Re: Home Network with 2 Computers Secure with Firewall. Is Networked Printer Secure?

    FrereOP,
    Sorry for not providing more detail in my first post.
    Broadband internet
    (through a
    3Com US Robotics Cable Modem CMX) connects
    into a NIC card in my host PC.
    Then a Cat5 twisted pair cable runs from a 2nd NIC card in my host PC to the D-Link ethernet hub (model #DE-805TP).
    The 2nd PC likewise connects through a NIC card with a Cat5 twisted pair cable to the hub.
    Lastly, an internet ready network laser printer connects with a Cat6 twisted pair wire to the same hub.
    To the best of my knowledge the
    cable modem nor the hub contain a router (neither of the boxes for these components state that they are also routers).
    Both of these components are at about 6-1/2 years old.
    Please let me know if there is any further information I can provide.
    Any information you can provide would be appreciated.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Brisbane, Australia
    Posts
    645

    Default Re: Home Network with 2 Computers Secure with Firewall. Is Networked Printer Secure?

    Okay, now I understand. Thanks for the clarification.

    You are correct, there is no router in your setup and you must be using Internet Connection Sharing. Hence, you are relying on a software firewall. This is an unusual network by current standards.

    Certainly anything coming in from outside has to pass through your computer which is protected by Zone Alarm. In any case, the printer is pretty well protected because all the software is hard coded into a ROM chip so it can't be hacked. The only real damage that can be done to the printer is if someone was able to submit a job to it meaning your paper and toner would get used up. The printer does have its own RAM but this is for storing and processing data that is sent from the PC. What IP address did you give the printer and what are the IP addresses of the computers (leave off the last 3 digits thus:- 192.168.0.***)?

    I would SERIOUSLY consider buying a router - something like a DSL-504 or similar. They are very cheap these days. Put the router between your modem and everything else and have both computers and the printer plugged into the router. That way you won't have a daisy-chain network and everything should run much more quiclky, and be fully protected by a hardware firewall.

  5. #5
    tryprotect Guest

    Default Re: Home Network with 2 Computers Secure with Firewall. Is Networked Printer Secure?

    Frereop,
    Yes, I am using internet connection sharing.
    Regarding the setup being out-of-date, I agree.
    When I first set up the network in 2000, it was a recommended setup for very small networks.
    But now all suggested network setups include a router (funny how things change).
    I will be doing alot of research on how best to update the network.
    I want to make sure I understand fully the best way to secure the network components and to make sure that I do not expose the network by doing something "stupid".
    I am glad to hear that the printer, if it could be breached, would not be exposed to too much harm and that the PCs are not at risk from the printer being directly connected to the hub.
    The IP addresses for the two PCs and the
    printer are all in the 192.168.0.*** range.
    Eventhough I am not ready to research other network changes I would like to make,
    I will work on getting a router.
    The additional security and fexibility makes adding a router worth doing now.
    Thank you for the piece of mind and all the information!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Brisbane, Australia
    Posts
    645

    Default Re: Home Network with 2 Computers Secure with Firewall. Is Networked Printer Secure?

    Good to hear.

    Indeed by the sounds of things it should be a trivial matter to convert. Routers are pretty simple to set up and not much can go wrong.

    Initially anyway, it should just mean plugging things in. You will then need to use one of your PC's to access the router's setup page (usually by typing http://192.168.0.1 into the address bar of a web browser) to make sure the settings are correct. This might be a simple as entering your username and password for connection to your ISP but there are a few security things that are recommended as well.

    If you need some advice on what to buy or how to set up your router, don't hesitate to ask.

  7. #7
    tryprotect Guest

    Default Re: Home Network with 2 Computers Secure with Firewall. Is Networked Printer Secure?

    Frereop,
    Thank you for offering to help me with the setup.
    I have often run into problems when setting up this network.
    I have had to do it a few times (when getting new computers or updating hard drives).
    I follow instructions well, but there is always something that turns out differently than expected.
    When I run into problems, the result is many, many hours being spent on the internet looking for answers.
    So, as you can imagine, your offer of assistance is greatly appreciated.
    Thank you.

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