Reviewed by David Savage
Most households these days have the internet – it has become a daily part of our lives, from checking emails to getting the latest news, streaming television shows and films and checking our banks and paying bills. The internet has made entertainment much easier, communicating with friends and family a doddle and even the mundane paying of bills and transferring money so much easier.
The internet is a wonderful beast and most people wouldn’t, and couldn’t, be without it. But with everything connected, it brings its own problems with security and cybercrime.
To access the internet at home, you need a router. When you signup to an ISP (Internet Service Provider) you are generally provided with a new router. While these are adequate for most people with a laptop and a phone or two, when you start adding more and more devices around the home such as smart speakers, home security system, smart lightbulbs, the list just goes on and on, the cheap ISP supplied router just isn’t up to the job.
Some ISP supplied routers just can’t handle so many connected devices and are really only good for a very basic household. And with cyber security becoming increasing necessary, a router update is a very good idea. But with so many on the market, what do you go for?
We were sent a F-Secure SENSE Security Router and App for review, which is a router and more. It 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 gives you fast WiFi whilst protecting all internet connected devices connected to it in your home. It is a dual-band upright router (2.4GHz (longer reach) or 5GHz (faster speed) frequencies with 4× internal antenna). It blocks malicious websites and other threats and secures all your smart devices against cyber-attacks.
As we get more and more internet connected devices in our homes, protection is becoming increasingly more difficult, so the SENSE router and app will hopefully protect everything in our household using artificial intelligence and machine learning.
The F-Secure Sense Security Router was very easy to setup following the instructions of the app – you will need to download an app to your phone or tablet to configure and manage the router and any attached devices. It doesn’t replace your existing router, but as a secure bridge between your router and devices and you can also use it as an extension to your existing router and expanding the WiFi signal in your home. We have used it both ways but are currently using it as an extender as we have a 3-storey house with the main router on the ground floor so needed something to extend the signal to the top floor.
Once the router is installed and connected, connecting the devices you want to connect and secure is very easy and can be managed using your tablet or phone. Once you have connected any devices that you want secured, the router offers browsing protection (makes web browsing safe and safeguards your identity online) and tracking protection (your privacy is protected against hackers, advertisers and data collection companies). The app also gives you the ability to easily block internet use on specified devices (just a swipe) so that the internet is blocked – great for stopping kids using the internet of their phones when then shouldn’t be! You can also setup website exceptions so that only certain websites are allowed, such as educational sites for homework use etc. It also protects against harmful apps by using cloud technology to check every app against a virus database in the cloud (network connection required).
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
F-Secure TOTAL works on devices running Windows 7 or newer, macOS 10.12 or newer, iOS 10 or newer, and Android 5.0 or newer.
While the SENSE Router is responsible for getting you online and securing your internet connection, the TOTAL package is a collection of software programs to keep your computer fully protected. It features an antivirus program, password manager and a VPN. Working in conjunction with each other they make a very secure security package for your connected devices (laptop and phones) and gives you a bit more peace of mind when the children are using the internet (hopefully for homework).
- F-Secure SAFE is an antivirus and internet security package that protects your device not only from viruses but ransomware, spyware and 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).
- F-Secure KEY is a password keeper and manager which 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.
- F-Secure FREEDOME is an easy to use VPN (Virtual Private Network) that 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, this is a very powerful router and software package that really protects all your devices in real time. The router is very easy to manage using the software of the laptop or via the app on the phone. You can monitor any threats with ease and block internet use on individual devices with the swipe of your finger. The SENSE looks quite funky with its tall white body and digital clock – it doesn’t look out of place in any room (and doesn’t even look like a router).
The software package (subscription based 12 or 24 months) is also extremely easy to use, fast and responsive. You can install just the packages you want but all is recommended.
One impressive thing about F-Secure SAFE is that is equipped with 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).
This is a fantastic router, especially being always up to date. It has extended the signal in our house, is fast and reliable but most of all is very secure and easy to manage. And I love how easy it is block the internet connection to the kids’ devices once they are in bed and shouldn’t be using them.
RRP: from £164.99 (SENSE and 12 months TOTAL subscription).
For more information or to buy visit www.f-secure.com.