A few years ago I realised that commercially available home routers were not sufficient for our household needs. At that time security features were scant and parental controls, if available, were minimalist. The vulnerabilities of home routers have been exposed through the Krack WiFi vulnerability and router exploits since then and we have all become more security conscious. This means that commercially available home routers now often have improved security features and that’s a very good thing.
After a lot of research the solution I selected was the Untangle Next Generation (NG) firewall that is a fully fledged network security solution including web filtering, virus checking, intrusion prevention and bandwidth control. I had been looking for something that I could install on my home router and Untangle’s NG Firewall can be installed on an Linksys WRT1900ACS. This is a decent router anyway that is compatible with open source software but it is even better with the Untangle NG software installed. You can pick this up online with a 16Gb SanDisk USB drive for under $300AUD.
While the free Untangle NG firewall applications can be used at home without paying for a licence, Untangle offer a HomePro subscription for home users which is very good value at $50USD per annum. After installing Untangle on the Linksys router and trialing this it was a simple decision to switch to the HomePro subscription when my trail expired. One of the features I really liked was automatically routing connections from my son’s PS3 through a VPN so he had some protection from DOS attacks. The other options I looked at were not available for a router and would have required running a separate PC with dual Ethernet cards.
The Linksys Untangle router has been the mainstay of my home network ever since. It was originally installed at the gateway as a Unified Threat Monitoring (UTM) device in a large 5 bedroom family home. I quickly realised that the performance of the router and features of this software meant that it could replace all of my other Wireless Access Points. When I moved to another house the Linksys Untangle router became the main router for everyone in the house and our devices to connect to. It really is an awesome setup.
I recently moved again when my eldest son moved out on his own. The Linksys Untangle router connected as my gateway to the NBN FTTP. After a lot of trial and error I was finally able to setup the Unifi USG and now I am intending to set up the Linksys Untangle router behind this to monitor my network traffic. My brother is now convinced of the Linksys Untangle router’s merits too. Like me he was looking for a robust gateway device that could filter web connections and restrict access after hours. He likes it so much that he now has two to create a VPN between both of his home sites.
I will write more about parental controls and why this is important. Untangle allows you to specify the hours that devices and users can connect and the applications and websites that can be used. Other providers of home networking products are catching up but the Linksys Untangle router is still the most powerful and flexible that I have used. Believe me this has been thoroughly tested out by my two teenage sons so I am confident about how well it performs.