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Secure your Wi-Fi against hackers - VPNs & guest access

Lock down your Wi-Fi network and find devices that are stealing your bandwidth – and, potentially, your data

More tips for helping you secure your wi-fi network against hackers, including VPN usage, and guest access management.

9. Use a virtual private network (VPN)

VPN software displayed on a laptop

There's every chance that virtual private networks (VPNs) are supported on your router, whether you're using default firmware or have upgraded to an alternative. Although VPNs are more commonly associated with third-party software that re-routes your internet traffic through a proxy, operating your own VPN through your router may provide added security benefits.

Doing so means being able to access your home network in a secure way through an encrypted tunnel when you're not connected to your network. This also offers the same level of end-to-end encryption as a paid-for service, meaning you can securely browse the web from public spaces without fear of data leakage or interception. In order to do so smoothly, you'll probably need a Dynamic DNS (DDNS) service to resolve a domain name to your router as a home user, to skirt around the fact most ISPs don't offer a static IP address for your router. The free-to-use No-IP is as good as any for this.

10. Set up a guest network

Guests visiting the home of a friend

Passing the Wi-Fi password to everyone who visits your home, including your friends and family, means by definition you're diluting your home network security, and raising the chances that this password falls into the wrong hands. They might, after all, accidentally leak the password to somebody else, albeit without knowing.

One way of maintaining the integrity of your network is by changing the password each and every time you hand out the code - although this may prove incredibly inconvenient for not only your routine visitors but also for yourself and members of your household.

Alternatively, many routers allow users to set up guest networks for visitors. This means you can provide users with a key that gets them online on a virtual network, without exposing your connected devices. Should your router not support guest networks, we would recommend you update your firmware to double-check the feature hasn't been added at a later date. If not, we'd suggest upgrading to a newer model.

Updating your router with the widely-used replacement router firmware Tomato may help, as this does support a guest mode.

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