After several months since the last firmware update for Peplink Access Points, version 3.5.4 has been released. The Peplink team has corrected some bugs and improved SSID and Wi-Fi management. Each SSID can now be configured with a different schedule. This will allow you to broadcast different SSIDs at different times of day. Client bandwidth limits can also be separately configured for each band.
In regards to Wi-Fi Management, the Wi-Fi Radios can be turned on and off from the main dashboard. There is further schedule control in this case too as the Wi-Fi radios can be scheduled in 30-minute intervals. For additional details, check out the release notes. When ready, you can download 3.5.4 at Peplink.com.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 06 December 2016 )
Tuesday, 22 November 2016
The New Pepwave Surf SOHO MK3 Has Arrived!
(11/22/16 - The New SOHO Has Arrived!)
The Pepwave Surf SOHO originally launched in May of 2013 (see original Surf SOHO Review), and quickly became one of the most demanded routers for RVers, homeowners, and small business owners alike. The SOHO represented an exceptional value with business grade features and performance while coming in at a lower cost than similarly spec’d routers. RV blogger Jack Mayer wrote an exceptional in depth review while 3Gstore customers have rated the SOHO at 4.5/5 stars over its lifetime. The Surf SOHO went through a hardware refresh about 1 year ago adding gigabit ethernet ports, making local file transfers much quicker. Now after much anticipation hardware version 3 (aka Surf SOHO MK3) of the Surf SOHO is here!
On the outside the SOHO has been completely redesigned to match higher end Peplink routers like the Balance One. Gone are the curved edges and in is a design that looks much more professional and won’t be out of place in a business amongst other network equipment. There are still two basic status lights on the front of the unit for power and WiFi. The back side of the SOHO has 4 LAN ports, 1 WAN port, 1 USB port, a factory reset button, power input, and 3 WiFi antenna connectors. The WiFi signal bars of the original SOHO are gone since they weren’t particularly useful to begin with, and a Kensington lock security slot has been added to the side of the router. Rubber feet on the bottom of the router keep the SOHO neatly in place on a desktop or shelf, while mounting holes let you place this just about anywhere connectivity is needed.
One of the major changes to the new Surf SOHO is the addition of 802.11ac support for the WiFi radio. The 3x3 MiMo WiFi radio offers speeds up to 450Mbps on the 2.4Ghz frequency, or 1300Mbps for 5Ghz. In our testing the SOHO will broadcast its WiFi signal 250-300’ through walls before losing the signal, and this range is much greater when unobstructed (variable depending on interference from other electronics and physical interference such as walls and ceilings). This significantly improved WiFi radio makes it possible to simultaneously stream multiple HD videos across the local network, with plenty of throughput leftover for file transfers, backups, and general web browsing. Wireless AC also means that you can achieve higher speeds farther from the router where a single band device would drop off much faster.
3G/4G USB Modem Support: The Surf SOHO has a single USB port for 3G/4G modems and over 250 modems from providers worldwide are supported. For home or business users who rely on a cellular connection, the SOHO can perform a variety of “Health Checks” to ensure that the connection stays active. The cellular connection can be a primary connection or set up as an automatically connected backup if the primary connection fails. The SOHO also works via USB tether with most hotspots and many Android phones for flexible connectivity options.
WiFi as WAN: The Surf SOHO has the ability to pick up external WiFi networks (like campground WiFi or a hotspot/Jetpack — virtually any WiFi network that is open or for which you have the password) and create a new private network from it that you can access securely through the router. Even if you have your own internet connection, the ability to use the Surf SOHO for WAW can come in VERY handy. WAW is great in the event of an unexpected internet outage — if your primary connection goes down and there is an open WiFi network in range, or if you have a smartphone that can be used as a WiFi hotspot (like the iPhone and many others), the Surf SOHO can be configured to quickly connect to WiFi and your network will be back online in moments.
Failover/Failback: For home or business users that can’t afford to be offline, the Surf SOHO can prioritize internet connections with a simple drag and drop interface. If the primary connection fails, the router will detect it and automatically connect to the next prioritized connection. The SOHO will also continue to check the status of the primary connection and will reconnect to it when it comes back online. Failover happens quickly and without user intervention meaning internet outages will no longer be a burden.
Bandwidth Monitoring: These tools allow you to monitor how much data is being used by the computers/devices on your network. Whether you have a limited data allowance from your provider (like Verizon’s 5GB or 10GB monthly allowance) or simply want to be able to manage and monitor your usage, these controls are extremely valuable and competing routers in this price range do NOT offer anything like it! Usage can be viewed in monthly, daily, or hourly reports to give you an overview of when and by which device/user the data is being consumed, and you can even view usage in real-time. These monitoring options can be very helpful if you notice a spike in data usage from a specific IP address — it can help you identify a computer that may have data-sucking malware installed on it, for example, or it can simply help you keep an eye on the productivity of all users on the network.
Security:WEP, WPA, WPA2, and AES WiFi encryption as well as the ability to hide the WiFi SSID, plus Radius Authentication, make the SOHO capable of preventing any unauthorized access to the network. The SOHO ships with WPA/WPA2 - Personal encryption enabled. The password defaults to the last 8 digits of the LAN MAC address, which is printed on the underside of the Surf SOHO. From the moment you power on the SOHO you will be utilizing a secured network.
Guest Networking: The Surf SOHO supports up to 3 unique WiFi networks for flexibility in the home or office. Guest traffic can be isolated and put on its own VLAN. Content blocking lets you block certain types of traffic on the network, and web filtering blacklists can block specific types of websites. WiFi Scheduling helps you determine who can access what networks, and during which days and times. Have a full time network for employees, and then a guest network that is only available during business hours. Create a guest network for your kids that blocks access to unapproved sites and goes offline when its past bed time.
PepVPN: The Surf SOHO introduced a new feature at launch called PepVPN, which allows users to easily network Surf SOHO units to other PepVPN or SpeedFusion enabled Peplink/Pepwave devices. For example, rather than having to deploy expensive hardware at each location to build a reliable network, a business could utilize a Balance router at the primary location and install Surf SOHOs out in the field; each SOHO can then connect to the primary network with very little setup. PepVPN offers 256 bit AES encryption for any data moving over the VPN tunnel and is quicker and easier to set up than IPsec. PepVPN has quickly become the fastest, most cost effective way to establish connectivity between multiple offices.
InControl 2 Management: InControl 2 is a powerful tool that allows users of Pepwave/Peplink devices to manage all of their equipment in one centralized system. Administrators can generate reports, gather statistics, control guest access, and even configure a network remotely. Business owners will be able to deploy multiple devices and have them automatically configured via InControl 2 by simply adding them to a group and assigning a configuration file. With the remote web admin tool you can log into the local interface of a connected router regardless of its internet connection, with NO extra setup required. InControl 2 is INCLUDED for one year with every Peplink/Pepwave device, and is just $29 per year per SOHO after that. This is an incredibly powerful cloud management tool, and no other device comes close to offering the same functionality at the same price as InControl 2.
PPTP/L2TP Server: Unlike any similarly priced 3G/4G router, the Surf SOHO has a built in PPTP/L2TP server, making it easy to securely connect to the SOHO from a remote location. It also allows the SOHO to be used as a central hub for remote employees without additional hardware costs. By setting up a simple VPN with a device on a different network, that devices can act as if it was on the same LAN (Local Area Network) as the SOHO. This means a file server or printer at the office can be accessed from anywhere in the world where you have internet access. One popular use for the PPTP/L2TP server is for secure internet use while away from the main network — if you’re using a less secure network elsewhere (like free public WiFi, for example), you can set up your computer/iPad/etc to connect to your Surf SOHO back at home via PPTP/L2TP; all of your traffic is then routed securely through the Surf SOHO’s internet connection instead of over the vulnerable public connection. Other users of the public WiFi network will be unable to intercept your activity (where they could capture confidential passwords and banking information otherwise) since all the traffic is encrypted and securely sent to your Surf SOHO first.
Dynamic DNS Support: With a dynamic DNS account set up, Surf SOHO users can connect to their router from any internet connection using a custom URL (e.g. homesurfsoho.dyndns.org). This opens up one more way for users to remotely manage their network and its resources without the need for a costly static IP address. Cellular users will still need a static IP address for remote access to the network (unless you are connected by PepVPN or using remote web admin via IC2) as these connections are NOT publically routable and DDNS can not get around this limitation imposed by cellular providers.
Pepwave Router Utility Application: With the Router Utility Application for iOS and Android, network monitoring has never been easier. View device status, bandwidth usage, events, and more. Push notifications give you up to the minute updates on any major changes or performance issues, preventing small issues from becoming big problems.
Bussiness-class features with consumer-level ease of use
Reliability. 3Gstore has tested the new Surf SOHO for more than a month leading up to this review, and we experienced ZERO downtime!
Create up to 3 wireless networks, with unique passwords and client isolation, for true guest networking
InControl2 is included for a year!
In the last 3.5 years, the Surf SOHO has proved itself time and time again to be a feature rich, reliable, and powerful router for thousands of happy customers. The passing of the torch from the old to the new Surf SOHO is complete and once again the SOHO has raised the bar to become the new benchmark for consumer and business routers.
The Pepwave MAX BR1 Mini is the latest industrial-grade, 4G LTE router from Peplink. This capable router is heavy on features while keeping a lightweight, small footprint, suitable for installation just about anywhere. Whether the BR1 Mini is installed in a vehicle, used in M2M deployments, or will provide cellular backup or Out of Band Management to a home or office, its top tier performance will not disappoint.
The Pepwave MAX BR1 Mini weighs in at just over half a pound, and is 4.1 x 4.3 x 1.2 inches in size. The device has an all metal enclosure, perfect for industrial applications, use in ATM machines or digital signage, or locations without climate control. The BR1 Mini has an operating temperature of -40 to 149F for 4G LTE connectivity almost anywhere .There are mounting holes on the sides of the router for easy installation, and high quality screw on antenna connectors mean that even in the most demanding environments you’ll have reliable connectivity. If larger external antennas are required the industry standard SMA connectors make adding a new antenna or cellular amplifier a breeze. The front of the BR1 Mini has an AC power input, DC terminal block for redundant or primary power, status lights, a factory reset button, and two ethernet ports.
(BR1 Mini with Optional Port Adapter for Out of Band Management)
The first ethernet port is labeled as LAN & Console. The LAN is where you would connect a network switch or a device that needs a hardwired connection to the BR1 Mini. This is listed as a console port as well since with an optional Port Adapter, the BR1 Mini will perform Out Of Band Management (OOBM). The port adapter splits the LAN into two ethernet cables, one for a connected device or router, and the second to connect to the console port of that router. Utilizing the BR1 you can remotely open up a terminal window to your Cisco, SonicWall, or similar device. No more analog phone lines for OOBM. Now you have a single, low cost device doing double duty as your cellular backup and OOBM to your existing network, saving you time and money and ensuring you have maximum uptime in your business without the high costs of sending a technician out to the site.
The second ethernet port on the BR1 Mini is labeled LAN/WAN and PoE In. Out of the box the BR1 is only able to establish an internet connection via its embedded cellular modem. For most users, this is exactly what the BR1 needs to do. If used as a cellular router for industrial or M2M environments or as a cellular backup to an existing router or firewall, the WAN port is not needed. However if you want to use the MAX BR1 as a low cost, yet capable failover router, an optional license is available to activate the WAN port and failover features. This license also activates WiFi WAN letting you use an existing WiFi network or hotspot as a source of connectivity. You can read more about WiFi WAN here. The PoE In stands for Power over Ethernet (the Mini uses Passive PoE). This lets you place the MAX BR1 Mini in a location where it can best obtain a cellular signal, but there may not be power. PoE lets you run a single ethernet cable to allow network connectivity as well as provide power to the device.
(Back of BR1 Mini - Antenna Ports and SIM Slots)
The BR1 Mini has a removable SIM card cover revealing two SIM card slots. Although the BR1 Mini has a single embedded cellular modem, you can insert two SIM cards at once which provides a few options. You can have two SIM cards from a single carrier and in the settings of the BR1, set the amount of data you have per month and your billing cycle start date. When the BR1 uses the data amount you define, it can switch to a second SIM card preventing costly overage fees. The second SIM card can also be a different carrier than the first. You can once again have the BR1 automatically change to the second SIM card when the first has used its data allowance, or automatically change to the second SIM card and carrier if the first is not available. You can also manually tell the BR1 which SIM card you would like to connect on if you know one carrier works better than another in any given location. A final option for the second SIM card would be to install a blank, unactivated SIM card as a backup. For example, you have a large deployment of BR1 Minis providing cellular connectivity for ATM machines, and you insert an activated Verizon SIM in slot A. You could install an unactivated T-Mobile SIM card in slot B to give you options to change carriers in the future. You can then remotely activate the second SIM with T-Mobile and via InControl 2, Peplinks cloud based management platform, push a configuration to all your devices at once and have them change to the second SIM. More on InControl 2 later.
(Easy to Use Web Interface)
Configuration of the BR1 Mini is very simple thanks to Peplinks intuitive graphical interface. No need to have specialized skills or training or understand complicated command line prompts. The dashboard page of the BR1 Mini shows you your current WAN connection status, WiFi status (if enabled) and device details. WAN priority is a simple drag and drop interface, and clicking the details tab opens up information and settings for that specific connection. The interface has helpful ? icons for features that need it and less used features are neatly tucked away in these extra menus making configuration as easy as possible. The interface also provides a client list as well as powerful data usage tools. You can view data usage on the BR1 Mini in real time, or break down by month, day, or hour, with each device's data usage detailed separately. This makes identifying sources of high data usage quick and easy to ensure you don’t have any overages on your cellular connection.
While the BR1 can be configured locally, it's the Peplink InControl 2 cloud based management platform that makes monitoring and managing devices easy. InControl 2 provides a single login screen for managing all of your Peplink hardware in the field. You can create device groups and make changes to all of those devices with just a few clicks in the cloud. InControl will let you push new WiFi settings, update configuration files, schedule firmware upgrades, and monitor and manage data usage with ease. Since the BR1 Mini includes GPS capability, InControl 2 becomes a powerful fleet management tool. Device location is updated in real time and historical locations tell you where it has been. InControl 2 is free for the first year with every Peplink/Pepwave device, and then just $29 per year per device after that. InControl 2 comes in at a lower cost, with more features, than many competing platforms. Consider the value of what InControl 2 can do and then do the math on the first year free. On a 1000 unit deployment, that is $29,000 saved! Plus, InControl 2 is LESS expensive that many other cloud based management platforms while providing MORE features, and with the cost of the BR1 Mini coming in under the competition, it is easy to choose the MAX BR1 Mini.
The MAX BR1 Mini is no slouch when it comes to performance and capability of its onboard WiFi AP either. With support for up to 60 simultaneous users, the BR1 makes a perfect public transportation router. The BR1 is right at home in a taxi or on a bus, and its captive portal functionality and multiple networks means you only need one piece of hardware to provide connectivity to staff and guests alike. Create a custom landing page with terms and conditions, redirect users to a site of your choice after logging in, and set bandwidth allowances and access durations. This is configured via InControl 2, so updating an entire fleet of hundreds of devices takes just seconds instead of days, and all happens from the cloud.
(MAX BR1 Mini with Included WiFi, Cellular, and GPS Antennas)
The MAX BR1 Mini supports LTE bands 2, 4, 5, 13, 17, and 25, and 3G bands 1, 2, 4, 5, and EVDO Rev A. This means there is support for all US carriers on LTE and 3G (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint). No need for specialized carrier hardware and with the dual SIM slots and InControl, changing one or multiple devices is simple and doesn't cost thousands in redeployment costs and truck rolls.
3Gstore thoroughly tests all new hardware before launch, and the BR1 Mini is no exception. We have had a MAX BR1 Mini connected in our warehouse for the last few months as our backup internet connection. On multiple occasions, we ran a ‘fire drill’ where we purposely disconnected our primary internet connection and ran our warehouse on the BR1 Mini with Verizon LTE only. We were pleased with how reliable the Minis connection was, and at no point did the router ever disconnect or drop in performance, even when under heavy load with VoIP phones, sales, and shipping staff actively using the connection. The connected Port adapter gives us console access to our primary router, a Balance 380, via the cellular connection. If we need to remotely administer or reboot the Balance for any reason, the BR1 Mini makes this possible while still acting as our backup.
The MAX BR1 Mini provides all of this functionality for just $299! The failover license to activate the wired WAN and WiFi WAN is $100, but if this is not needed the extra cash in your pocket is great to have and keeps deployment costs low. The Port Adapter for simultaneous LTE backup and OOBM is just $19. Overall, the Pepwave MAX BR1 Mini has more features, top notch performance, and comes in at less than half the price of the competition. For more information or to find out if the MAX BR1 Mini is right for you, contact the experts at 3Gstore. Looking to sell the MAX BR1 Mini or other products from 3Gstore? Become a 3Gstore reseller!
Internet of Things Devices and Their Security Vulnerabilities
CNET has a been an informative outlet for just about anything having to do with consumer level technology. Recently, we came across an article CNET wrote about how IP cameras and other Internet of Things devices can easily be hacked and wanted to share that. This past Friday, October 21st, a distributed denial of service attack, or DDoS, was performed against Dyn. Dyn is a company that manages website domains and routes Internet traffic. A DDoS attack is an attempt to overwhelm a website with so much traffic that it affects its normal service and can eventually take it down. This is exactly what happened on Friday and it affected many websites such as Twitter, Netflix, and Reddit.
The truth of the matter is that no company can be totally invulnerable to such attacks. This is why it is so important to protect your network as much as possible, including changing default passwords on your Internet connected devices and making sure your network’s firewall settings are secure. In this case, hackers used something called Mirai Malware (something that also recently affected Sierra Wireless products). Thankfully, we have not experienced or heard of any issues with the other products we carry, including our CloudCams . The attack on Dyn occurred for the first time early morning and another came mid-afternoon. By Friday evening however, Dyn reported that they had resolved the issue.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 26 October 2016 )
Tuesday, 18 October 2016
First 5G Modem Announced
Qualcomm, a leading provider in cellular enabled modems for use in mobile devices, has just announced its first 5G modem. Dubbed the Snapdragon X50, Qualcomm states the modem can operate at speeds up to 5Gbps. Although the 5G standard hasn't been established yet, Qualcomm is forging ahead hoping to push the industry towards a standard.
"The Snapdragon X50 5G modem heralds the arrival of 5G as operators and OEMs reach the cellular network and device testing phase," said Qualcomm exec veep Cristiano Amon. "Utilising our long history of LTE and Wi-Fi leadership, we are thrilled to deliver a product that will help play a critical role in bringing 5G devices and networks to reality. This shows that we’re not just talking about 5G, we’re truly committed to it.”
This new Qualcomm modem will function in the 28GHz range, also known as millimetre wave. These extremely high frequencies will allow for significant data transfer speeds, but the major sacrifice here is signal penetration. At 28Ghz, even a screen door will be enough to block the 5G signal. In these scenarios the modem would drop back to the LTE network which operates at 700Mhz, or millimetre wave base stations will need to be deployed within line of sight of most devices. Qualcomm has created a graphic that goes over a suggested deployment. Read their full release here.
While the prospect of 5Gbps cellular is interesting, it does raise a big question. What will happen to our data caps? With the ability to use an entire months worth of data within just seconds, carriers will have to devise new ways to monitor and charge for data usage. Fortunately, 5G isn't going to be a reality until at least 2020, so we have a few years to figure it out.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 18 October 2016 )
Monday, 17 October 2016
Sierra Wireless Mirai Malware Information
Last week, ICS-CERT (United States Computer Emergency Response Team) warned about a new type of malware attack on cellular enabled gateways and routers from Sierra Wireless. This malware, nicknamed 'Mirai' can control devices when default passwords are not changed on Sierra Wireless devices that are accessible to the public internet. These reported infections succeed by connecting to ACEmanager, the Sierra web GUI for configuration, and use the default password.
The following devices are vulnerable to the Mirai malware.
LS300, GX400, GX/ES440, GX/ES450, and the RV50.
Sierra Wireless has confirmed the attacks and has posted a bulletin on its news site that provides more information and instructions on how to protect yourself from Mirai.
While many celllular enabled devics are not accessible on the public internet, those that are and are using default passwords should be the first that are updated. The good news is this malware resides in the devices memory, and therefore once the Sierra is rebooted, it will be wiped clean. Even if you have remote access to the device, remotely rebooting and changing the password will clear the infection.
Last Updated ( Monday, 17 October 2016 )
Friday, 07 October 2016
Comcast Data Caps In More Markets Today
After trial runs of various data limits across the US, Comcast is now rolling out its data caps to more markets. Comcast is referring to this as a data plan, not a cap, but the end result is the same. Users who go over the data limits of their plan will be subject to additional charges, or users can opt to pay extra for unlimited data every month.
This isn't a surprising move as Comcast has always had data limits in place, though never enforced. The good news is the data plan provides significantly more data usage than most households will touch in a month. With 1 terabyte of data, Comcast says that more than 99% of customers will not use this in any given month, and thats easy to believe. 1 TB of data is like streaming HD video for more than 12 hours a day, every day of the month. Comcast has created an animation that shows just how much 1 TB really is.
While Comcast states that 99% of people won't touch 1 TB in a month, it certainly isn't impossible. In my home, we are a streaming only family. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, and YouTube, make up our TV options. Because of this our data usage is going to be much higher, and with 4 people streaming at any given point, its not hard to use a high amount of data.
As you can see, I've successfully broke the 1 TB limit this year, though only 1 time in the last 9 months. For me paying the one time fee for going over that limit would still be less expensive than paying for unlimited data with Comcast. This data reporting is from a Peplink router, which offers data monitoring tools monthly, daily, hourly, and by device.
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