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I'm running 5 computers behind a Compaq router but don't have strong faith in the stregenth of my routers firewall. I have been tempted to switch it out and make one of my linux boxes the router/firewall. How easy it is to hack past these routers? Should I be concerned?
Distribution: OpenBSD 4.6, OS X 10.6.2, CentOS 4 & 5
Ah, so I wasn't aware that Compaq/HP made SoHo* devices, but it looks (from the manual) to be fairly equivilant to a Linksys, Netgear, Belkin, etc...
In general SoHo* appliances** do an adequate job of blocking malicious traffic. Is it "more secure" than setting up a Linux firewall? Well that depends on your personal knowledge of networking. If you aren't a security expert, chances are you will misconfigure your Linux firewall and it will be significantly less secure than just running an appliance. On the other hand, if you know a lot about TCP/IP and packet filtering, you can probably build something much more paranoid and more "secure" than the consumer appliances. Of course, if you fell into that category you wouldn't be asking the question in the first place (you would have built it already, or decided it wasn't worth your time).
So the question that remains is: Is it worth the chance of misconfiguring a Linux firewall and making your network more vulnerable in exchange for not relying on a "black box" piece of hardware? The answer is: It depends. If there is something you're trying to do right now that your current firewall won't support, then it may be worth it (if there is no work-around method). Also if you want to learn packet filtering then you would certainly get a lot of hands-on experience by building your own firewall. I would recommend that if you want to learn, practice on a spare machine first while keeping your network behind the appliance until you're absolutely sure you have the firewall rules correct on the one you did by hand.
*SoHo stands for SmallOffice/HomeOffice
**Appliance is a networking device that you just plug in and don't have to install software on, but it does a complicated job--like being a firewall