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Setup a Guest Network

The IoT (normally called the Internet of Things but which I consider the Internet of Targets), includes all those talking light bulbs, Nest heating and air conditioning systems, and even the new Brita water filter orders new filters when it decides you should change yours. It also could include your Roku box, your Apple TV, and so forth. These are all targets for hackers and their security is normally very bad. They pose a danger.

One way to deal with it is to setup 3 routers. One facing the outside world, and one each for you private home or office network and a second router for your Internet of Things. You can also get non-consumer routers, firewalls and switches that allow for this but tend to be pretty spendy. But there is a reasonable simple solution that you may already own.

Setup a simple guest network with your current router

You can probably setup a guest network on your current router. All decent home routers make it easy to setup a secondary WiFi guest network. Just login to your router and turn on these settings. Create a simple password for this WiFi network and a new Wifi ID. Use it for guests and also for your Internet connected devices. If the router did its job properly, then it will keep the two networks separate. Be sure and connect your Internet of things devices to that guest network.

When won't this work

Sometimes this won't give you what you want. Some programs require that your computer, phone or laptop are on the same network as the IoT device. For example, my Roku remote control Android app requires that I'm on the same network as my Roku box in order to control it. So, I must log off my home/office network and log into the guest network to use it.

In order to help make the switch from my office network to my guest network easier, I use the wonderful WiFi Manager App from Kostya Vasilyev. In addition to many management functions for WiFi, it allows me to put widget buttons on my phone and tablet to quickly switch between my guest network and my office network.

So, if the control program talks to your device from within the same network, then it must be on the guest network. However, if your control program talks to your device through the Internet from the outside, then you do not need to switch. So, for example, you NEST controller which allows you to control the NEST system through the Internet is not limited this way.

Date: March 2016

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