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We are setting up a small, single PC office about 200 miles away. We plan on getting a cable internet connection but need some advice on a sufficient firewall. We would like to keep it under $100 if possible.

2 options we are considering are:

  • Cisco RVS4000 (got some bad reviews)
  • Linksys WRT120N (running DD-WRT)

We need the ability for VPN but other than that we don't need anything special. We just want to keep that PC as safe as possible but easily maintainable because most work will be done remotely.

What suggestions or solutions can you recommend for this application?

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If you want it to be as safe and maintainable as possible, why start hacking it up with DD-WRT? DD-WRT has no place in a business environment as far as I'm concerned. Leave that to your home network. – joeqwerty Mar 23 '11 at 12:51
Thanks joeqwerty, that is exactly the advice I am looking for. Do you think a router like the Linksys WRT120N with original firmware is sufficient or should we look at something else? – Carl Mar 23 '11 at 12:54
up vote 2 down vote accepted

From a practical standpoint, you should be fine with anything providing NAT, as long as you are extremely careful about what ports you forward.

To be a bit more secure, though, I'd consider something like an ASA 5505 (The low-end one on this site)

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If you have a discarded PC you can try a firewall distro (IpCop, pfSense, Untangle). The main drawbacks can be space needed, noise and energy expense (althougt I've read that some configuration with a liveCD/MemoryStick + USB for config allow to save a lot in HD energy usage).

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Agree with Hyppy, a Cisco 5505 would be perfect. If you're not a fan of Cisco you have other players who do similar boxes. Checkpoint SG108, ForgiGate, Sonicwall (fairly low cost).

Any decent NAT capable known make firewall/router should be good.

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An ASA would be overkill for this. You're only looking for a box to maintain a VPN connection to the Home Office. An 800 series would be cheaper and perform just as well. This is especially true since you won't be hosting anything at the Remote Site. Heck, depending on the user, you could just use a VPN client on the machine with Start Before Login enabled and use any old home router.

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In the price range you're working with you're going to be stuck looking at SOHO devices, which I don't trust in an office environment in terms of performance, scalability, security, and manageability, regardless of the size of the office. If you can bump your budget up a few hundred dollars you can move into the small/midsize business market segment. Personally, I would stay away from any firewall/router that includes integrated switching capability. Watchguard has a good firewall in the $300.00 US price range, the XTM 21.

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Have you considered Smoothwall? It's very easy to install and manage and can be managed remotely if you so desire. Smoothwall Express is the free version and can be installed on a low spec PC, which you may either already have sitting around or should be able to buy for less than your target price.

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