Building a Secure Home Network on a Budget

Your home wifi connection is your first point of entry that most attackers will attempt to break in through when it comes to your home network.

Building a Secure Home Network on a Budget
Photo by Sigmund / Unsplash

Security threats are becoming increasingly more prevalent as most devices are becoming connected to the internet in some fashion. Cyber threats used to be a worry that mainly targeted corporations and business. Now with more people connected than ever, along with increased work from home jobs, it's important to ensure your home network is secure.

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Starting With Your Home Wifi Connection

Your home wifi connection is your first point of entry that most attackers will attempt to break in through when it comes to your home network. Whether it's through wifi wardriving or a targeted attack on your network, making sure your wifi access points use strong passwords and security protocols is a must.

Common Wifi Attacks

WiFi attacks are becoming increasingly more simple to perform. Most common of them is to crack your wifi password to gain access to your network.

With devices like the Flipper Zero and DIY hacking tools like the Pwnagotchi someone can gain the information they need to successfully crack your wifi password.

You can use tools like this one to help you create strong wifi passwords. You should also make sure your wifi access points are using the latest security features such as WPA2 or WPA3.

Another consideration when choosing your wifi access points is to choose devices such as the TP Link Omada line of devices that allow you to easily see what devices are connected to your network, as well as manage your wifi network settings.

Secure your Home Network With PFSense Firewall

PFSense Firewall is an inexpensive firewall solution that provides a professional level firewall without breaking the bank.

A firewall will help protect not only your wifi network but also any wired devices connected to your network and help prevent any threats to your network from the internet.

If you have devices such as security cameras, file sharing devices, or anything else in your home network that you want to access when you are away from home, you should consider using a firewall such as PFSense.

PFSense is also a great firewall to setup if you work from home and need to keep your network secure, or if you need to setup a VPN for work from home tasks.

You can setup the firewall to provide many different service for your network including:

Setting up and configuring PFSense is a bit more technical but well worth the effort if you are serious about securing your home network from attacks.

PFSense not only acts as a firewall for your network but can also function as your router for all of your connected devices. This means your PFSense firewall will not only protect your network from threats, but also control all the traffic in and out of your network as well issue devices IP address when they connect.

Building the Network

Putting all of these components together can sometimes be time consuming, and honestly quite frustrating. This article won't get into the detailed setup of each device but here's a brief overview of how the network should be connected together.

Your Internet Service Provider and PFSense Firewall

To start off you will need to access your ISP's (internet service provider) router they installed in your home. Most internet providers install an all in one unit that acts as the router and wifi access point in one. You can usually do a quick google search based on your ISP's name and the model of the unit to find how to access it.

Once you are logged into the ISP provided router you will want to look for an option called "Bridge Mode", if thats not available you will want to look for a "DMZ" option. Both of these options will allow you to pass your internet traffic to your PFSense firewall. If you use the DMZ option you will want to note what IP address you enter, as that will be the WAN address when you configure your PFSense firewall.

Next you will want to connect your PFSense WAN port the LAN port on your ISP router. This will allow PFSense to connect to the internet and filter all the internet traffic.

Also be sure to disable the wifi on the ISP router before you are done to prevent it from broadcasting a network.

Building your Wired and Wireless Network

Once you have your PFSense firewall connected you will want to connect your PoE network switch to LAN port on the firewall. You can typically use any port on the network switch for this, normally port 1 will work just fine.

Next you will want to connect your TP Link Omada Controller and any access points to the next ports on the switch( ports 2, 3, 4 ect..)

Follow the instructions provided by the TP Link equipment to set up the account and configure the devices.

Once you have the TP Link devices setup and configured you can start connecting devices to your wired or wifi network and be protected by your PFSense firewall. Using the app provided from TP Link you can also keep an eye on what devices are connected to your network at any time.

Conclusion

With a small budget and a little bit of time, you can setup a robust secure home wifi network with the piece of mind knowing that your digital life is a bit more secure from cyber threats. Network security is something everyone should take into consideration as threats are on the rise and you can never be to safe.

PFSense Firewall TP-Link EAP610 Ultra-Slim Wireless Access Point TP-Link Omada Hardware Controller TP-Link TL-SG2008P Jetstream 8 Port Gigabit Smart Managed PoE Switch