Router Security Mesh Routers Website by     
Michael Horowitz 
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From the beginning routers have been complex devices with more configuration options than anyone could possibly understand, myself included. On the whole, however, I view the complexity as a good thing, as it offers many options for better security. But, these dozens of options are too much for consumers to deal with.

So, when the time came in early 2016 for new mesh routers to appear on the market, hardware vendors took it as an opportunity to make routers more user-friendly by removing 90% of the features. By then, everyone had a smartphone so management of the router was moved from a web interface to a mobile app. But phones have small screens and thus little room for the many features that legacy routers offered.

Some of the relatively new consumer-focused mesh routers that are managed solely with a mobile app are Eero, Google Wifi, Luma, Plume and Ubiquiti AmpliFi. The one exception had been Netgear, their Orbi routers still (as of April 2017) offer a full web interface with the classically large number of features. When the Linksys Velop system was introduced in January 2017 management of the system required a mobile app. In June 2017 they added a web interface, one that is similar to the interface on their WRT and Max-Stream routers. As far as I know, Velop and Orbi are the only mesh router systems with a web interface.

But, every coin has two sides. The flip side of easy-to-use is inflexible. Consumer focused mesh routers can hardly be tweaked at all. For example, they all have a single guest network. My favorite router, the Pepwave Surf SOHO can create three networks. Some Asus routers can create eight.

Still, this latest generation of routers is generally better than legacy models in a number of ways.

Mobile security, however, seems to be a downside. Configuring a legacy router always required you to enter a password. No more. There doesn't seem to be anything securing access to the mobile apps that control these newer routers. And, hardware vendors still drop the ball on UPnP, enabling it by default, no doubt, to minimize tech support calls. Shame on them.

Eero has a nice security feature. In the app, if you click on the message that says "9 connected devices" (see screen shot) it displays a list of devices that are "Currently on your network". For each device it shows the signal strength and current bandwidth, but not the name of the eero device its connected to (see screen shot). The nice feature is that right under this list is another list, one of devices "Recently on your network". And, since the eero app lets you give friendly names to devices (Bobs new iPad), this makes it easy to look for intruders. Screen shots were taken with the Android app in July 2017.

This page was last updated: July 15, 2017 1PM CT     
Created: April 26, 2017
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