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Several networking questions

Old 08-30-06, 07:01 PM
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Several networking questions

I have a wireless network in my house. My primary desktop is connected by wire, 2 laptops wirelessly. I have a second desktop that I want to connect via wire to the network as well.

1. I haven't been able to get it so that I could share files and printers without disabling my firewall (Zone Alarm free). How can I accomplish this?

2. I want to not have a keyboard, mouse or monitor connected to the 2nd desktop and just access it via the primary desktop. The primary runs Windows XP Media Center and the secondary runs XP Home. Is this possible? I just want it to be a file and printer server.

3. New router is 802.11g. My older laptop has a 802.11b card and my Tivo is also 802.11b. Both stopped working when I plugged in the new router. I thought the router was supposed to be backwards compatible, but I am not sure what happened. The passwords are the same. Also, I'd like to enable WPA on the router, but the older cards may not support. Is this correct?

Thanks!
Old 08-30-06, 09:49 PM
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Originally Posted by c-moon
1. I haven't been able to get it so that I could share files and printers without disabling my firewall (Zone Alarm free). How can I accomplish this?
There's an option somewhere in ZoneAlarm to set whether your network adapter is "Trusted" or "Internet", or something like that. Set it to "Trusted".

Originally Posted by c-moon
2. I want to not have a keyboard, mouse or monitor connected to the 2nd desktop and just access it via the primary desktop. The primary runs Windows XP Media Center and the secondary runs XP Home. Is this possible? I just want it to be a file and printer server.
Use a remote-control app like TightVNC. Be warned that some PCs don't like booting without a keyboard, so you may have to attach a cheapo keyboard to your secondary PC just to placate it.

Originally Posted by c-moon
3. New router is 802.11g. My older laptop has a 802.11b card and my Tivo is also 802.11b. Both stopped working when I plugged in the new router. I thought the router was supposed to be backwards compatible, but I am not sure what happened.
802.11g is backwards-compatible, but some routers require you to specifically enable support for both modes. (If you connect an 802.11b adapter to an 802.11g network, then it tends to slow the network down to somewhere between the two speeds.)

Originally Posted by c-moon
Also, I'd like to enable WPA on the router, but the older cards may not support. Is this correct?
Correct. Note that if you value your security at all, you should enable WPA, even if it means replacing the older cards. WEP is a mild deterrent at best, and can literally be cracked in about 15 minutes nowadays.
Old 08-30-06, 11:04 PM
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Thanks very much for your reply. I have found in Zone Alarm where I can add an IP address to my "Trusted Zone", but how do I determine the IP address for the remote computers?

I have downloaded Tight VNC and will try it out. I assume it would have to be installed on both computers? Is it a complicated program to figure out?




Originally Posted by GHackmann
There's an option somewhere in ZoneAlarm to set whether your network adapter is "Trusted" or "Internet", or something like that. Set it to "Trusted".


Use a remote-control app like TightVNC. Be warned that some PCs don't like booting without a keyboard, so you may have to attach a cheapo keyboard to your secondary PC just to placate it.


802.11g is backwards-compatible, but some routers require you to specifically enable support for both modes. (If you connect an 802.11b adapter to an 802.11g network, then it tends to slow the network down to somewhere between the two speeds.)


Correct. Note that if you value your security at all, you should enable WPA, even if it means replacing the older cards. WEP is a mild deterrent at best, and can literally be cracked in about 15 minutes nowadays.
Old 08-30-06, 11:21 PM
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Originally Posted by c-moon
Thanks very much for your reply. I have found in Zone Alarm where I can add an IP address to my "Trusted Zone", but how do I determine the IP address for the remote computers?
You can open up a command window and in IPCONFIG to display the IP address.

Originally Posted by c-moon
I have downloaded Tight VNC and will try it out. I assume it would have to be installed on both computers? Is it a complicated program to figure out?
The full program needs to be installed on your secondary PC; on the primary PC you can install just the viewer.

VNC is very easy to use. But be warned that once you've sent your password, there's essentially no security built into VNC: if the two PCs are connected by an insecure wireless network, then anyone can see how you're controlling your secondary PC, including anything you type over the remote connection. (This is generally true of most remote-control apps for Windows.) I would very strongly recommend against using any remote-control programs unless your computers are connected by a wired connection, or unless you've secured your wireless network with WPA or WPA2.
Old 09-01-06, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by GHackmann
You can open up a command window and in IPCONFIG to display the IP address.
OK, thanks. I found the ip addresses and entered them as 'trusted zones' in Zone Alarm. The laptop and main PC share just fine, but the secondary PC is stubborn for some reason. I've verified that Windws firewall is disabled and that file and print sharing are enabled in the network connections properties box. What else could cause crankiness in sharing files on a network?

EDIT -- I just found the problem, I had the Trusted Zone Security set to High in Zone Alarm so it disabled all sharing. Switched it to Med and all working fine now with file sharing.


VNC is very easy to use. But be warned that once you've sent your password, there's essentially no security built into VNC: if the two PCs are connected by an insecure wireless network, then anyone can see how you're controlling your secondary PC, including anything you type over the remote connection. (This is generally true of most remote-control apps for Windows.) I would very strongly recommend against using any remote-control programs unless your computers are connected by a wired connection, or unless you've secured your wireless network with WPA or WPA2.
Thanks also for the warning on VNC. Is the vulnerability ONLY when I am actually accessing the secondary PC? I imagine it will be pretty rare that I will need to do that, I just wanted the capability so I wouldn't need the keyboard, mouse and monitor taking up extra space and making clutter.

Last edited by c-moon; 09-01-06 at 10:23 AM.
Old 09-01-06, 11:00 AM
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Physically where is the 2nd computer? If it is close enough just get a KVM switch and some long cables and connect it that way. Much easier than dealing w/ VNC imho (although a little more costly considering the price of KVM switches ).
Old 09-01-06, 01:33 PM
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Originally Posted by nemein
Physically where is the 2nd computer? If it is close enough just get a KVM switch and some long cables and connect it that way. Much easier than dealing w/ VNC imho (although a little more costly considering the price of KVM switches ).

The primary and secondary PC's are about 4 ft apart. I am unfamiliar with KVM switches. How much are we talking? And would it connect via ethernet cables?

EDIT - OK did some research. Thanks for the suggestion. Here's one for $9 after rebate. Works for me, but will it work with a cordless mouse/keyboard and will it degrade picture? Thanks

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16817107242

Last edited by c-moon; 09-01-06 at 01:48 PM.
Old 09-01-06, 02:56 PM
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I use them all the time (although I'd be a bit leery of the cheap ones... it's not to say they are going to be crap but considering decent/respected brand names run in the ~$100 range you decide edit: but for $10 though what the hell give it shot...) and I have not seen any video degredation. On some you'll occasionally run into problems w/ the mouse or keyboard losing sync, so you'll move the mouse and nothing will happen on the screen. When this happens all I've had to do is un/replug in the mouse on the "console" port on the KVM and it comes right back. WRT whether or not they work w/ cordless it mainly depends upon the tech. If it's the standard PS2 connectors just plug the receiver into the KVM and you shouldn't have any problems. If it's USB then you'll need a USB KVM and that'll definately run into some $ from what I've seen.

Last edited by nemein; 09-01-06 at 03:00 PM.
Old 09-01-06, 03:39 PM
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Thanks very much for the advice. I will mainly be using 2nd PC as file / print server, so I don't expect to use the KVM switch very often at all (maybe once every several months)
Old 09-03-06, 01:53 PM
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So the vulnerability of VNC is only when I am accessing the 2nd PC? Otherwise it doesn't expose my network any more than the Wireless part does, right?
Old 09-03-06, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by c-moon
So the vulnerability of VNC is only when I am accessing the 2nd PC? Otherwise it doesn't expose my network any more than the Wireless part does, right?
Right. When you use VNC to remotely control your 2nd PC, every keystroke and every mouse movement you send to the 2nd PC will be visible to every device on your network. There's no vulnerability when you're controlling either PC directly.
Old 09-03-06, 02:57 PM
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the video will look completely normal on a KVM, VNC might degrade it a bit though, or at least have some lag
Old 09-03-06, 06:08 PM
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I think I am going with VNC here. Please forgive me, I am not a technical person ...

I have:
- cable modem
- wireless router connected to modem (WPA enabled)
- 2 desktops hard wired to the router
- 2 laptops wirelessly connected to the router

I will only be using VNC service on one desktop and VNC viewer on the other desktop. Where is my security risk here?

Is the risk that keystrokes will be transmitted to the internet or to my wireless area? The secondary PC will be running TightVNC as a Service all the time. Very occasionally I will fire up the TightVNC viewer on the primary PC. Will there be a security gap 24/7 because the Service is running all the time, or only when I access the 2nd PC over Tight VNC?

Will the data on the 2nd PC be more vulnerable, or only the VNC sessions themselves? Will my other file sharing transactions be more vulnerable or not affected by the VNC service?

Thank you very much for all the help!
Old 09-03-06, 06:57 PM
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Originally Posted by c-moon
I will only be using VNC service on one desktop and VNC viewer on the other desktop. Where is my security risk here?
Since your desktops are both hard-wired to the router, there is no security risk.

If either one of your desktops were connected to the router wirelessly, then your keystrokes would be transmitted through your local wireless network only, and only during your VNC session. If this were the case, and if your wireless network were insecure, this could be a problem.

Running VNC does not directly affect the security of any other network applications. However, if you were using VNC over an insecure wireless connection, and if you typed any passwords into your VNC session, then eavesdroppers could pick them up. Since you're using a wired network connection between both PCs, and your wireless network is secured anyway, this does not apply to you.

When using VNC between two PCs on the same network, nothing is sent over the Internet at any point.
Old 09-03-06, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by GHackmann
Since your desktops are both hard-wired to the router, there is no security risk.

If either one of your desktops were connected to the router wirelessly, then your keystrokes would be transmitted through your local wireless network only, and only during your VNC session. If this were the case, and if your wireless network were insecure, this could be a problem.

Running VNC does not directly affect the security of any other network applications. However, if you were using VNC over an insecure wireless connection, and if you typed any passwords into your VNC session, then eavesdroppers could pick them up. Since you're using a wired network connection between both PCs, and your wireless network is secured anyway, this does not apply to you.

When using VNC between two PCs on the same network, nothing is sent over the Internet at any point.

OK, great, thanks!

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