A simple way to protect many of your Smart Home devices is to attach them to a guest network rather than the Wi-Fi network you use your broadband to connect with the internet. It’s more secure to connect your smart devices in this way as they are less vulnerable to hacking or scanning, where an outsider looks at the online devices, and scans them for usernames and passwords which haven’t been properly secured. They’re not absolutely invulnerable, but keeping them off of the network which you use to connect your computer to the internet reduces the risks of them being easily accessed.
There are plenty of other very good reasons to set up a guest network on your router as well. For guests, for example.
Make Your Broadband Easy To Use, For The Right People
When you have visitors who all want to connect their phones or laptops to the internet the easiest thing is to make your network password free. Clearly a terrible idea! Instead, the wisest and best thing would be to create a guest network that they can connect to instead of the one you use to connect to the internet. They can connect using a basic password which is easy to remember, and in no way similar to the long, complex passwords you use for your own devices. Making the password easy to remember means that you won’t have to keep re-sending it or resetting it because someone is always forgetting it. Another feature of a guest network is that it prevents those on it from accessing shared folders, printers, and any wireless storage devices which you keep on your regular Wi-Fi network. What that means is that you can keep on doing all your usual stuff on your ‘Home’ network without having to worry about people who’ve access to the ‘Guest’ network seeing anything they shouldn’t. A guest network means you’re able to do that without having to go about changing and adding additional security to all your personal stuff.
To fire up a guest network you’ll need to go to your router’s management menu. Start off by opening a new browser window and type in your router’s IP address. It’s printed on a sticker on the bottom of the router, along with the user name and password that you never got around to changing. If you did change it, well done. And if you changed it and have forgotten it again you’ll need that yellow cable which came with the router. You’ll find it in the kitchen drawer where you keep the old chargers for phones you no longer own.
Depending on your router you’ll probably find what you’re looking for in ‘Wireless Settings’ menu. Give the new network an innocuous name and ensure that access to your other networks is turned off. Then give it a strong, but memorable password.
While you’ve got your router’s interface open it’s worth checking for any software or firmware security patches which might be available. Your router probably does this automatically, but it’s worth doing it manually, just in case.
Allocate Data To Important Tasks
It’s possible you can also adjust your Quality of Service (QoS) via your router interface too (these options depend on which router you own though, as not all routers offer this option). Changing the QoS means being able to assign data to the most important tasks while other tasks take a lower priority. Imagine you’re streaming a movie, chatting to family on Zoom, or playing a game online when someone in another room decides now would be the perfect time to start transferring huge files around, uploading all their holiday snaps or downloading HD videos. QoS means that data will be prioritised to your live entertainment while those other tasks which don’t need to be done instantly can take a back seat, taking more time so that your more immediate tasks don’t freeze or glitch. The latest routers have QoS presets, so just choose the one which suits you best
If you have guests coming it’s probably best to ensure that your home receives full Wi-Fi coverage too. If you put them up in the spare room and that’s the room with the poorest coverage then you’ll find them wandering around at random times of the day and night waving phones around looking for a good spot to get reception. Fix that by moving your router to a better location, probably somewhere central to the home. If your house is too big for that to help much, or the walls are especially thick you might want to think about finding a new router. The routers which come with your data package are rarely market leading products, and a better router will come with better security features, and stronger signal. You can also try investing in a couple of mesh network extenders which you can dot around the house. The cool thing about mesh networks is that they don’t just extend the Wi-Fi, but properly located they improve the overall coverage throughout, meaning better download speeds, less freezing or glitching while streaming, and you get to use all of your Smart Home tech everywhere you want.
Sharing Is Caring
Having people staying means that you’ll be sharing a lot of your stuff. There’s a chance that they won’t have brought their computer with them and they’ll need to borrow yours too. It’s very unlikely that you’ll want them using your computer with full access to all your files, storage devices, internet history… So create a guest account for them to use. Microsoft have a handy guide to doing that here, while if you use a Mac you’ll find instructions here. This means that they will be able to check email, look at their socials, watch movies and play games online without having any access to your accounts, bank or favourite shopping sites where you might have saved your purchaser profile and wallet, or saved log-in details.
Briant Broadband offer a range of different fibre and wireless broadband internet options which you can tailor to suit your individual needs. Starting at as little as £20 per month for 40Mbps unlimited broadband it’s worth giving us a call on 01903 221999 or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally published at https://www.briantcomms.com on September 27, 2021.