When you travel, you take certain precautions. Maybe you move your wallet to your front pocket to make it harder to steal. You put your valuables in your hotel room safe. Maybe you even monitor your credit cards to make sure no one has somehow snagged the numbers.
But then you go back to your hotel and hook up to a big, open hotel-wide WiFi network where hackers can also be connected, sniffing out easy marks. Or, even worse, you connect to a strong nearby network that looks official but actually has been set up by a bad actor, trying to get things like passwords and personal account access.
A lot of us just ignore these possibilities while traveling because the alternative is staying offline. Shudder. So what’s a connected traveler to do?
Bring a little protection of your own.
Firewalla Purple is a teeny little security firewall and router that can enhance the security of any network or act as a short range wireless router on its own. Plug it into your home network and you immediately supercharge your security with traffic monitoring, parental controls, ad block, and more.
Well, not immediately, you do need to set up Firewalla Purple via the somewhat crunchy Firewalla app. The app provides an almost paralyzing number of options and an avalanche of network data. But don’t worry. If all you care about is, for example, quarantining new devices when they hit your network, you can do just that and ignore the rest. Firewalla’s app is chunky but that’s because it’s so versatile.
On the Go
Before you hit the road, you’ll want to go through Firewalla’s extensive setup doc. Again, it’s somewhat intimidating, but easy enough to follow. Then, when you get to your destination, plug in the Firewalla Purple router, use the app to connect it to the local WiFi, and then connect to the Purple instead of the public access point.
Does the WiFi have a captive access portal? Like when your hotel wants you to sign in and make an account or you have to give your phone number at the local Starbucks? Not to worry, Firewalla has procedures for that as well. Essentially, once you connect your Purple to the local network, then connect a device to the network and complete any steps that need to be taken care of on your phone or laptop, your Purple will function normally.
The great thing about connecting to Purple instead of a local hotel network is that if you’ve set up rules on your device, you’ll take those with you. So ad blocking, content filtering, online activity monitoring and more are all still available.
From a practical perspective, it makes it a lot easier to connect your devices as well (it has the capacity for about 8 simultaneous connections). Save the Purple network on your phone, tablet, whatever, and you don’t need to go through captive portal gymnastics. It also makes it possible to connect devices to a hotel LAN that might not be able to access the internet otherwise (like a smart pet feeder).
If you have multiple Firewalla devices, you can even set up a private VPN so that Purple connects to your home network and uses that to route your traffic, making your internet access that much more secure.
Where Can I Get It?
There is an astonishing amount of data that the Purple can reveal about your network traffic and if you want to dig in, you can do just that. But the crucial bit, keeping your devices safer, doesn’t require much more than a few setup steps.
The Purple isn’t cheap. At $369, it’s about the same price as a good mid-level mesh router. But then you’re not packing up your entire home networking system and bringing it with you on vacation. The Purple’s teeny size makes it perfect for tossing in a bag. And while you wouldn’t use the Purple to deliver WiFi to a large home, it’s perfect for covering a small area like a hotel room or small apartment.
Especially if you spend a lot of time on the road or frequently use public wireless networks to get work done, the added security of Firewall Purple is invaluable. It’s the difference between wondering if this is going to be the network that infects your laptop with malware and connecting without worry. Get yours on the Firewalla site.