Reviewed by David Savage
Home security is a big issue these days and we can do lots to secure our homes and belongings. But what about security on our connected devices? It should be just as an important part of any home security considerations, but it is often overlooked.
More and more households these days have an internet connection. Most of us couldn’t manage without one. For households that do have an active broadband connection, a lot of those are now becoming connected homes, or even better, smart homes. A “connected home” is not one that has joined some kind of criminal community but one that has lots of smart devices accessing the internet, whereas a “smart home” takes those connected devices and seamlessly joins them up to work together – for example, when our front door is opened (connected to a Hive Door Sensor) it turns on the hallway lamp (connected to a Hive Active Plug).
All these connected devices are brilliant and can make live simpler. We have lots of connected and smart devices in the house, from door senses to security cameras and of course phones and tablets. Although we have passwords and pin numbers on things that require them, what about security at point of entry itself? We have changed the default passwords on our router, but that is as far as router security has got.
When anyone signs up with an Internet Service Provider (ISP) for a broadband service they are usually supplied with a new router. A lot of these are ok for getting on the internet, but not so good with the security and more times than not, when adding all the connected devices are just not able to cope. At some point, unless we are using out broadband for just a basic internet connection for our laptop, phone and possibly a smart speaker, a lot of us will change our router. We changed our router not so long ago and our focus was on getting one that could handle more devices, we didn’t really consider the security side too much.
With home and cyber security coming much more into focus, we were delighted when we received the F-Secure SENSE Security Router and app to review. F-Secure have over 30 years of experience in cyber security. The SENSE comes as part of TOTAL premium cyber security package, which also includes internet security, VPN and password manager for all your devices. It is described as a combination of a smart security router, an advanced security app and industry-leading cloud protection.
The SENSE router is a very aesthetically pleasing router, it certainly doesn’t look like anything your ISP would supply. It really doesn’t look like a router at all. Now, it doesn’t replace your broadband router but works in conjunction with it to create a secure network and extends your wifi connection. The SENSE is a dual-band router, 2.4GHz (longer reach) or 5GHz (faster speed) frequencies, with four internal antennas and gives a fast and secure wifi connection to everything connected to it. It blocks malicious websites and other threats whilst securing all your connected and smart devices against cyber-attacks, using artificial intelligence and machine learning to do so.
When set up and running, the SENSE security router creates a secure wifi network. You can also use it on ethernet should you prefer a cabled connection. It protects you against fake websites, protects your identity and privacy, and keeps your passwords in a safe but easily accessible place.
With the TOTAL software package, its antivirus protects your devices and files from malicious harm whilst the VPN (Virtual Private Network) ensures your privacy on the internet by making your devices invisible. You can protect your children’s devices and set internet use boundaries by blocking and approving websites, setting usage times or even blocking the internet connection on a device completely or just a specific time (you can block the internet completely on your children’s phones when they go to bed for example). You can even connect and secure televisions and smart appliances with its IoT (Internet of Things) security, which are generally the weakest parts of your home network.
For review, we received the SENSE TOTAL Package which includes the following:
- SAFE – an easy-to-use antivirus & internet security solution
- KEY – a password manager
- FREEDOME VPN – a privacy app to make your devices invisible online
- SENSE – a wireless router that protects every device in your connected home
It all sounds quite impressive, therefore complicated to install and configure. Not really, it couldn’t be any easier. Installation and configuring the SENSE router is simple. To install you first need to download the SENSE router app to your phone or tablet. Once installed, just follow the instructions within the app and the router will be installed, connected to your broadband modem/router and ready to protect any devices that you want to connect to it.
Now that the router is up and running you can disconnect devices from your old router and connect to the SENSE. This is done in the same way as you would to any other router. Once connected to the SENSE you are now protected making browsing safer and safeguarding your identity online. You can also enable tracking protection to ensure that your privacy is protected against hackers, advertisers and data collection companies. If any sites you use do get blocked and you know that they are safe, it is very easy to add them to the exemptions list so that you have access.
The SENSE also protects against harmful apps by using cloud technology to check every app against a virus database in the cloud (network connection required).
The SENSE router gets you online and securely browsing, banking and protecting your identity. The TOTAL package adds even more protection as it is a collection of software packages to add even more security to your computers. It features an antivirus program, password manager and a VPN.
- SAFE is an antivirus and internet security package. It protects your device not only from viruses but ransomware, spyware but even has protection for online banking (when you log your computer into your online bank with Banking Protection on, SAFE detects and shuts down all connections and programs it does not consider secure).
- KEY is a password keeper and manager. It stores all your passwords and pin numbers securely and makes in quicker and easier to login to your favourite services and makes paying online much more secure.
- FREEDOME is an easy to use VPN (Virtual Private Network). This helps to keep you anonymous online, encrypts your data so it´s impossible for anyone else to read, prevents third parties (like your internet provider) from tracking you and seeing what you do online and also hides your IP address for an extra layer of privacy. Plus, choosing an IP location in another country lets you bypass geo-restrictions you might otherwise encounter.
Overall, the SENSE TOTAL package has been providing me with a secure, fast and stable internet connection. The router is extremely easy to set up. It looks fantastic – I love that it displays the time in digital format and that it looks nothing like a router or wifi extender. And it is easy to use (once set up, for the most part it is just left alone). It protects all my devices in real time. Monitoring any threats is easy, with just a quick glance on the app you can see how many devices are being protected and how many threats have been blocked. With two clicks you can block an internet connection to any connected device.
You can install the software packages you need from one central place on the F-Secure website. You only need to install the ones you need rather than all of them. They are easy use with an uncluttered layout and they are fast and responsive.
SAFE (antivirus program) even comes with some impressive FAMILY RULES to make online use for children much safer. You can set time limits on internet and app use, monitor apps and decide which ones can and can’t be used, block and manage different types of website content and a Finder to locate lost devices when the children inevitably lose them (and even view it on a map).
The SENSE is a fantastic router. It doesn’t look out of place in any room with its white tall body and digital clock display. Unlike standard routers, it is continuously and automatically updated with new features and protection ensuring that you are always protected against all latest online threats.
For anyone taking their online security seriously, the SENSE security router and TOTAL software packages are an excellent way to help keep your online devices and information protected.
RRP: from £164.99 (SENSE Router with 12 months TOTAL subscription)
For more information or to buy, visit www.f-secure.com.