Every time you browse the web on a public Wi-Fi hotspot, you’re taking a risk that someone may be able to intercept your traffic and steal sensitive information such as passwords. There’s a pretty simple way to keep your devices secure and make sure your traffic is encrypted even when you’re using a public Wi-Fi hotspot, however: Use a VPN that’s hosted by your home router.
Writing over at The Mac Security Blog, Kirk McElhearn offers a comprehensive guide to using your router at home as your own VPN when you’re on the go. First, and most obviously, you’ll need to buy a router that has VPN software built into it. There are plenty of routers that offer these capabilities and they’ll save you money in the long run since you won’t be paying a subscription fee to use a third-party VPN service.
Some basic pointers you’ll need to set up your VPN-enabled router:
- Be sure to use a dynamic DNS service to make sure that the device you’re using can locate your router’s VPN server. This is particularly important if your ISP uses dynamic IP addresses that change every time you reset your router. Some examples of DDNS services in the guide include http://www.no-ip.com and DynDNS.
- You’ll want to use an app called OpenVPN connect to connect to the VPN through your smartphone — here is the link for the iOS version and here is the link for the Android version.
- To set up OpenVPN on your Mac, you can download an app called Tunnelblick that will help you create an OpenVPN configuration.
This is only a small portion of the knowledge you’ll need to protect your devices with a VPN-enabled router, of course. Be sure to read McElhearn’s full piece at this link.