Bench Test: Ubiquiti Router Ramps Up Networking With Nary a Net

Thanks to widespread hacking nowadays, the sub $100 “basic” network router just can’t provide the protection needed for video surveillance systems.

THE SECURITY AND VIDEO SURVEILLANCE world has been evolving the past decade from a mostly analog-based environment to an IP-based one. Security camera systems today have changed from analog matrix switches, VCRs and CRT monitors to multiterabyte-capacity video servers, IP cameras and fiber-based system backbones. As a result of this metamorphosis, the need for strong network components to provide the security required for the video surveillance network has also evolved. With the advent of hacking as a pastime for many, the sub $100 “basic” network router just can’t provide the protection needed in that environment. Based on our experience with systems undergoing daily denial-of-service (DoS) attacks, we set out to find a robust yet reasonably cost-effective router that can provide a secure gateway to the outside world for more complex systems and applications.

Our company was first introduced to the Ubiquiti product line by an integrator we were working with on an outdoor project where wireless links were required for the remote cameras. Having never worked with Ubiquiti before we were intrigued with the company’s offerings for future security projects we might be involved with. We reviewed its website and took a look at the products we felt would be useful in future projects. As it turned out we had a project come around where we needed to provide a client with some rapid network security for sites that had to come online quickly. After reviewing the Ubiquiti routers we decided to test the EdgeRouter ER-8 for possible deployment for their project sites.

There are four different EdgeRouters in the Ubiquiti line. The smallest, the EdgeRouter Lite, has three ports for the system network. Next in the line is the EdgeRouter PoE, which has five ports and, as you guessed, has PoE available for the connected components that require such. The full-size EdgeRouter is the “big brother” to the smaller units. This is a 19-inch 1U rack-mountable unit and there are two versions of this chassis, the ER-8 and the PRO. Both models have eight front-mounted RJ-45 jacks that can be configured with different parameters for the network connections. There is also a separate RJ-45 jack that can be utilized to interface with the router utilizing a serial cable and command line interface (CLI) communications.
The EdgeRouter PRO has an advantage over the ER-8 as it has an additional two SFP ports to allow direct fiber connections to the network router. The casing and materials used for the EdgeRouter Series is solid and doesn’t have a flimsy appearance as some less expensive units do. There is a power socket on the rear of the unit for the power cord as well as two cooling fans to keep the unit operating within parameters. The fans are easily accessible; three screws on the bottom of the router get you inside and changing them is simple, if the need arises.

The EdgeRouter ER-8 is designed to provide multifunction performance on a system’s network. The unit, for example, has the ability to provide structured settings for different network connections in a location. This would be particularly effective for someone who had to manage and administer Internet access to different tenants in an office environment as an example. The unit also has a robust suite of firewall settings as well as other programming parameters that would make a network IT person feel like a kid in a candy store.

One of the main reasons we selected this device for deployment at our customer’s sites was the robust firewall that the EdgeRouter ER-8 provided. One of the main problems we had noticed at our customer’s sites was the repeated DoS attacks that were being bombarded on the routers provided by the site’s Internet service. The EdgeRouter ER-8 effectively blocked almost all of the DoS attacks at the sites and kept the Internet up and running, something the service provider’s router couldn’t do.

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