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Everyman's Gateway

A network sharing software solution
worthy of King Solomon

ISDN, Cable Modems, ADSL and T-1 connections have made their way into our small home/office businesses and for some of us, the lucky ones, into our private homes. True, it’s been a long time coming, and in that time we've accumulated two or three times as many computers.

Some of us have even braved the elements and installed a Local Area Network (LAN) or two to share files and printing chores, with no discernible drop-off in network bandwidth. But what about Internet connectivity? Surely we shouldn't have to purchase an individual telephone line for each computer?

Good News! The Internet can indeed be shared across your networked computers, without installing any complex networking hardware. In short, there now exists a TOTAL software solution for sharing one Internet connection. The connection can be a standard dial-up modem, ISDN, ADSL, Cable Modem, etc.

Having looked, prodded and poked at a number of packages in this space of the market I am most satisfied with SyberGen's SyGate http://www.sygate.com/sygate.html. Inexpensive and easy-to-install. Who could ask for anything more?


How It Works

I configured SyGate to share ISDN terminal adapters, Cable Modems and ADSL lines. All attempts to connect and share went off with nary a hitch. Once enabled on the "server" 10 machines were able to share bandwidth from a bonded 2-channel ISDN connection. Granted the shared bandwidth was slow but it proved a point and the concept.

ntwrkt.gif (5046 bytes)

The figure above shows how SyGate works to enable four computers in your LAN to share a single modem. (taken from the SyGate website)


What It Does and Allows

SyGate is indeed an Internet gateway (check out http://www.whatis.com for definitions of technical terminology - it is a fabulous site for users at any level)

The Network Address Translation "NAT" SyGate device is transparent to the user at the application level. No proxy configuration is necessary when adding applications and/or changing servers.

It is compatible with HTTP,HTTPS, POP3, NNTP, SMTP, TELNET, FTP(PASV mode), IRC,ICQ, MS CHAT, RealAudio (TCP mode) and many other networking applications, including Quake II, StarCraft, Diablo, etc.


Setup and Support

I can only restate how simple this software is to set up, but if by chance you run into difficulty the Support section on the SyberGen website http://www.sygate.com/support.html offers up a detailed step-by-step installation guide complete with instructions and screen shots of setup dialog boxes.

The SyberGen FAQ, Frequently Asked Questions, posted on their website http://www.sygate.com/faq.html covers a wide range of issues: configuration of applications, issues related to DHCP servers and instructions on how to configure SyGate to maintain access levels for specific machines on the network.



I suggest that those individuals interested in security should read the section "How Secure is SyGate?" and follow up with research on Circuit Level security implementations. This will shed light on why particular applications running under SyGate operate and react differently than you might expect.

Note: Circuit relays oversee and maintain the passing of TCP connections. Inbound connections are blocked and the passsing of Outbound connections are policy based. Port addresses are the basis for Management, however, there are firewall solutions making use of source and/or destination addresses as well as timestamps.

Application protocol checking reamins an issue and sore point for circuit gateways. Users, in concert with each other can use an approved port number to run an unapproved application. A Circuit relay will not detect the violation.

SyGate is a Network Sharing and not a Network Security solution. From all of SyberGen's literature and marketing one would be hard pressed to say otherwise. The two items/issues are not interchangeable.

Sore Point!: SyGate does not run on Macintoshes...and after a lot of searching I found a cross platform solution from Vicomsoft Software's SoftRouter Plus. Available for Windows 95/98, NT Workstation, NT Server & MacOS, SoftRouter Plus offers unrivalled flexibility, configuration options and compatibility. As the Vicomsoft SoftRouter Plus uses true TCP/IP routing technology, it supports almost any TCP/IP application running on the client machines, regardless of platform, simplifying configuration and offering the maximum in compatibility.


Pricing and Availability

SyGate is available at three very attractive price levels: 3 users- $49.00, 6 users- $99.00, and without a doubt what is one of the best bargains you'll find anywhere unlimited users - $199.00


Shareware Alert – Windows 95/98/NT users who log into a number of networks and would rather not have to reconfigure their network properties at each logon should track down NetSwitcher http://www.netswitcher.com

Telnet, as a service/daemon running on systems is both open and vulnerable. It is widely suggested that system administrators install and configure Secure Shell, SSH.

SSH is the secure login program that has changed remote management of networks hosts over the Internet. It is a powerful, yet easy-to-use application that uses strong cryptography for protecting all transmitted confidential data,including passwords, binary files, and administrative commands.

SecureCRT http://www.vandyke.com is an SSH client which I use daily. It is easy to configure and is highly customizable. Visit the VanDyke website, fill out the necessary information and download a copy.

Last Update:06/26/2007


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