Patrolling Network Security With NetTrooper

Like many home keyboard jockeys, I view my wireless network as a black box. I set it up to share my broadband Internet connection. It does that. So I leave well enough alone.

That doesn’t mean, though, that my curiosity isn’taroused from time to time, and I feel an urge to poke around with the network. Usuallyit’s an urge that I resist, but a slick piece of software from Sereniti called NetTrooper made that urge irresistible.

NetTrooper isn’t designed as a toy for network peepers. Its chiefpurpose is to improve the security of your home network. In doing that,however, it lets you take a good gander at the inner workings of your Net.

Perky Interface

The program lets you control your network from a single console. It alsoallows you to easily see what devices are attached to your network andgives you some resources to address potential security risks.

For example, it will do a security evaluation of all your networked PCs.It will also alert you when your computer is at risk and tell you whatyou can do about it. It will even give you a report card view of thedevices on your network and grade the security risk of each.The application has an attractive interface that is perked up with 3-Dbuttons and colorful icons.

When you click the “home” button, a map of all the elements on yournetwork is displayed.

Report Card

Click the “security” button and the security report card appears. Itprovides grades for virus protection, spyware protection, firewallstatus, Windows and browser configuration, wireless security, backup andoptimization, peer-to-peer software and identity theft insurance.

Details about a grade can be revealed by clicking a link beside it.Those details, though, often reveal more about NetTrooper than thecomputer it’s looking at.

For instance, in the Windows and Browser category, my desktop computerwas given a “B.” In the details window, the program said that the reasonfor that grade was because my Windows System Restore feature was not turned on,Internet Explorer was configured to accept cookies from all Web sites,Internet Explorer was not configured with encryption and my computer wasmissing critical security updates from Microsoft.

System Restore is turned off on my computer because I have a third-partysoftware program performing that function.

As for Internet Explorer, I don’t use it, so I don’t care how it’sconfigured.

Taking NetTrooper’s advice, I ran Windows Update to make the latestcritical changes to my system. Nevertheless, NetTrooper kept telling meI had critical updates missing.

‘Like a Charm’

The folder and printer-sharing features of the program worked like acharm. They made it very easy to share those items on my network.

A click of the “repair connection” button will fix a computer’s link tothe network and the Internet.

The “router” button gives you quick access to items like your routerpassword, network ID, wireless security, router administration page andother router information.

You can download a fully functional, free version of NetTrooper from theSereniti Web site. After 30 days, you can choose to buy a subscriptionto the product for US$29.95, which will cover three PCs for one year.

If you choose not to subscribe, a number of the software’s features will beshut off, such as simplified folder and printer sharing, one-clickrepair of connectivity and security issues, wireless and roving securitymanagement, and protection of PC data while you’re away from home.

As a bonus with your subscription, you get $25,000 in identity theftinsurance with no deductible. The insurance will pay for extraassistance and financial relief, as well as identity restoration costs,legal defense expenses and lost wages.

You also get $1,000 in antivirus insurance. That policy covers damage tocomputers and software as the result of viruses.

While NetTrooper has let some light into the black box that is mywireless network, it hasn’t made it transparent. Nevertheless, if youfeel uneasy about the security of your net, $29.95 is a small price topay for peace of mind.

John Mello is a freelance business and technology writer who can be reached at [email protected].

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