Peplink rocks ! Total satisfaction


#1

I’ll try to keep this brief.
I’m a non-techie SOHO user with a mild obsession about security.
My provider sent me a new modem/router which I installed. I changed the access credentials from admin/admin to strong credentials. Shortly afterwards I read in the lay press that providers’ routers were being hijacked to create botnets. I took a closer look at my provider’s router. It had a fancy name on the front but, reading the tiny print on the label on the back, I discovered that it is a commodity router which had been re-branded by the provider. So I punched the designation into a list of the hackable routers and discovered that my provider’s router had a back door with credentials admin/admin (or something equally guessable). Contacted the provider and was told that they needed this back door in order to service their customers’ routers, upgrade, etc. Asked why they don’t protect their back door with strong credentials and received a weak answer (“We’ll look into it” etc.). Realised that any settings I made on that router to ramp up security were useless because at any time a hacker could walk in the provider’s back door and change them.
So I needed a good router between my office network and my provider’s router, “good” meaning accessible only to me.
Discovered that my existing Big Name wireless router’s firmware was from around the time of Noah’s Ark. Checked their website. No firmware update available. Contacted their so-called support. No reply. Checked out their forum. Useless. Like most tech forums it is simply a figleaf created to give the impression of support. Because no-one from the company moderates it any “support” is left up to the other participants.
Googled around, stumbled on a networking community where - condensed down - I was told to forget the Big Name routers and get a PepWave Surf SOHO. No discussion. Don’t waste time elsewhere, they said. Configurable, regular updates, supported by the vendor. Took a look at the forum, noticed that the vendor answered questions and that the forum was lively.
Finally managed to buy a PepWave Surf SOHO (none of the computer stores where I live had ever heard of it). Haven’t looked back. Minor challenge when installing, instant help from Peplink support. Subsequently discovered that I probably won’t need any more help, despite being challenged by technical matters, because the user manual has provided the answers to all subsequent questions I had. My 5-year old child could understand it (it’s full of illustrations). Heck, I even discovered that I can get the PepWave router to email me if a firmware update is available.
Now, whenever someone mentions router problems to me I just tell them to get a PepWave. Don’t even think about it. End of their problem/challenge.

By the way, this is unsolicited. I have no financial relationship to Peplink apart from having paid for one of their routers, nor am I in any other way beholden to that company.


#2

Awesome story! Thanks for sharing.

You are very kind of the “Provider” and Big Names, but security is no longer a bonus “feature” for Internet-connected devices. It is an obligation. If they don’t feel the responsibility intrinsically, then a bit of shaming may be needed to help them reprioritize their customer care.

Nice job and welcome!


#3

Just curious: what “networking community” suggested the PepWave Surf SOHO?


#4

I’m afraid I can’t remember. On receiving your question I searched my systems for the trail of references I followed at the time but it seems that after buying the PepWave and being satisfied with it I deleted the references. Sorry. As I’m not a networking tech it wouldn’t have been a forum that I visit regularly. The research started with a warning about router vulnerability in the lay Internet media (probably the BBC tech/cybersecurity section) which took me via a DuckDuckGo search to http://www.search-lab.hu/advisories/secadv-20160720 which identified my router as vulnerable. There was an update of that Search-Lab report in May 2017. Further searches on combinations of key words such as “router”, “vulnerability”, “security”, “hacking”, “back door” etc. took me to that forum where the PepWave was recommended.

That said, I’ll keep your question in mind. My brain tends to store masses of information I thought I no longer needed and those nuggets often pop up at 5am in the twilight sleep phase. If something comes up I’ll post it.