Bad Linksys WRT54GS failure mode

I have set up the nested wireless network scheme I wrote about here. The “inner” network is maintained by a new LinkSys WRT54GS wireless router. But I’m seeing an occasional failure on the WRT54GS that displeases me mightily.

Sometimes, it gets into a state where the power LED blinks, and the wireless features become unavailable. The wired ports still work, but they appear to be connected directly to the WAN port. The internal DHCP server, web server, and firewall apparently stop working, instead my wired PC in effect seems to be directly connected to the WAN port. This is not a good failure mode for a product whose primarily purpose to me is security. If it has to fail, it should not fail insecure like this.

I usually don’t notice this state for days, because the only obvious symptom is the non-functioning wireless. But I don’t use the wireless all the time, just once in a while.

Fortunately, the situation isn’t as bad as it could be. The WAN port on my “inner” router is connected to a regular port on my “outer” router, which itself also has a firewall. So, this bug is not completely exposing me to the Internet. But it is exposing me to the outer network, which has the wireless running without WEP, only MAC address filtering. As long as no WiFi hackers come by, I guess I’m safe. And I do keep my PCs well patched.

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