Most secure routers: How to choose one (2024)


  • Why should you be worried about router security?
  • Are all routers secure?
  • What makes a router secure?
  • How important are router security features?
  • Main types of routers
  • The most common router security protocols
  • How to make your router more secure

Why should you be worried about router security?

Your router is integral to the security of all its connected devices. If you have Wi-Fi in your house for laptops, phones, and even smart home devices, all your data is passing through a router. If the router is hacked, any data it handles could be exposed to cybercriminals and other bad actors.

You might assume that your router is just a Wi-Fi generator, but it does a lot more than that. Most routers have built-in parental controls, extra features and firewalls to ward off attacks and router malware, and data storage systems, including DNS caching.

When choosing a router, it’s important to find one that is secure, comes with useful safety features, and is made by a reputable manufacturer. Remember, not all routers offer the same levels of security.

Are all routers secure?

Some routers are not secure at all, while those that are vary in the level of safety and privacy they offer.

The best secure routers can still be vulnerable if they aren’t set up correctly. Using weak passwords, for example, could expose you to threats from hackers.

If you’re going to buy a new router, there are some key features you should look out for.

What makes a router secure?

Here are some of the things that you should expect to see in the best secure routers. A router doesn’t need to have all of these to be secure, but it should come with most of them.

  • In-built security features. The best secure router should come with features to prevent DDoS attacks, parental controls, and the capacity to block access to risky websites.
  • WPA3 certification. If a router is certified for WPA3, you’ll know that it comes with useful security functions like data encryption and protection against brute force attacks. At the very least, though, it must have WPA2 certification.
  • VPN compatibility. A secure router should have the capacity to be configured to route data through a VPN server.
  • Pre-configured VPN. Some routers come with a VPN already configured, protecting your traffic with powerful encryption as soon as you turn it on.
  • Facilitates long passwords. Router security depends on a strong network security key, so it’s important that whatever router you choose allows you to use a password that is at least 10 characters long. If it only allows you to use a short pin, that’s a major flaw.
  • Automatic firmware updates, or update notifications. The firmware on your router needs to be updated regularly. A good router should do this automatically, or notify you whenever updates are available.

As we’ve made clear, some routers come with extra security features, but do you really need them to stay safe?

How important are router security features?

Security features play a major role in keeping your router safe. Perhaps the most important features are those that encrypt data while in transit. Most routers have protocols that encrypt data, but some are stronger than others. We’ll discuss and compare protocols later in this article.

Some routers will also have pre-configured VPNs, or at least offer the possibility of VPN configuration. Both of these options result in high-security encryption and IP address protection.

Other factors beyond security features need to be considered, of course — speed, for example, and Wi-Fi 6 support — but protecting yourself against hackers should still be the priority.

With so many different routers available, it can be difficult to assess which one offers the right balance of security, speed, and affordability for your needs.

Main types of routers

Let’s take a look at the different types of routers you might be considering. It should be noted that we can’t effectively assess how secure these different models are, because their security will vary widely depending on the specific products and manufacturers. Where possible, however, we’ll highlight security strengths and weaknesses.

Wireless routers

Wireless routers are probably the most common type of router currently available. A wireless router connects to an ethernet cable and then projects Wi-Fi throughout the surrounding area (a home or an office, for example). These routers aren’t inherently unsafe, but because they are so widely sold, the quality of their security systems vary across the market. If you’re picking a wireless Wi-Fi router, make sure to read up on the specific model and its features. Most wireless options also have ethernet ports to allow for wired connections.

Wired routers

Wired routers rely on ethernet cables, just like a wireless router. However, they don’t project Wi-Fi, and instead connect directly to a device using ethernet ports and a second cable. In the age of smart devices like laptops, smartphones, and tablets, this may not be a useful solution for most people, since wired routers force you to stay within a cable’s length of the ethernet socket. However, if you have a static desktop or a larger games console, this can be a great option, as they offer fast speeds and make great gaming routers.

Edge routers

The term “edge router” is applied to routers that connect corporate networks to the internet, or to other wide area networks. The typical definition of an edge router sounds confusingly similar to regular home routers — internet gateways linking networks of connected devices to wider networks (including the internet). However, if a product is sold under this moniker, it usually means the router comes with additional features intended for businesses, like extra security measures and user monitoring functions. While edge routers typically have robust in-built protections, they will usually be of more use to businesses than individuals.

Core routers

Core routers are also used primarily by organizations and businesses. This term usually refers to a router that links multiple networks within one space. For example, a core router might direct the flow of data between different local networks in one building (in an office block with multiple local networks spread across different floors, for example). These routers are typically very fast, as they have to move large quantities of data rapidly from many different users at once.

VPN routers

A VPN (virtual private network) router can be wireless, wired, edge, or core: the thing that defines it is its pre-configured VPN. These routers are programmed to send and receive data through a VPN server. This means that multiple devices connected to it can enjoy the benefits of in-transit encryption. If you’re using a router like this, you’ll also be less at risk from DDoS attacks and doxxing, since your router’s IP address will always be shielded from the wider internet. A good VPN blocks internet security threats and enhances overall privacy.

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The most common router security protocols

Whatever router you settle on, the security protocols it uses will ultimately decide how safe your data is.

WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy)

WEP is a fairly basic router security protocol. Through this system, the router is able to encrypt the network traffic it handles, and limits access to those without a preset password.

WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access)

WPA is effectively a more advanced evolution of WEP, with stronger encryption and built-in authentication support.

WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 2)

WPA2 is currently the most widely used router security protocol. It was built on WPA’s foundations, but provides each device on a wireless network with a unique encryption key.

WPA3 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 3)

WPA3 is probably the most advanced and secure protocol currently available. It does away with WPA2’s system (in which multiple users can use the same password to connect to a network), using temporary QR codes and even radio signal pings to authenticate devices instead.

To be better equipped, learn about all the differences between the WEP, WPA, WPA2, and WPA3 security protocols.

The most secure choice of router encryption type

The best Wi-Fi router is the one that offers the most security. If you can find a router that offers WPA3, that will be one of the most secure options available. WPA3 offers better security, more advanced authentication processes, and a safer experience overall.

If you can, you should make use of other security measures as well, configuring your router to use a VPN and protecting individual devices on your Wi-Fi network with VPN clients.

Of course, you might not be able to get a WPA3 router at the moment, so it’s important to take steps to make your WPA2 router as secure as possible. Even without the latest standard in protocols, you can still make your router more secure.

How to make your router more secure

Even if you’ve already bought a Wi-Fi router, there is still plenty you can do to enhance its security.

    1. Install updates regularly. Like any device, Wi-Fi routers need to be updated frequently with the latest security patches. This prevents their protection features from becoming outdated and makes them functional for longer.
    2. Use long passwords. The longer a password is, the more time it takes for a hacker to brute force it. A short password could take just a few seconds to crack, while one that is 10 or more characters might take years. If you were given a router by your internet service provider, make sure to change its default password to something stronger.
    3. Enable parental controls. Most routers come with systems that allow you to limit access to certain sites, based on keywords or blocklisted URLs. These can prevent children from accessing inappropriate content, and from accidentally exposing your network to malware.
    4. Configure your router with a VPN. By setting your router up to route data through a VPN server, you can protect every device that connects to the Wi-Fi too. Your router’s IP address will be protected, and data will be encrypted as it travels between your router and the VPN server.

    Online security starts with a click.

    Stay safe with the world’s leading VPN

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    Learn more

    Most secure routers: How to choose one (2024)


    What are the most secure settings for router? ›

    Set to WPA3 Personal for better security, or set to WPA2/WPA3 Transitional for compatibility with older devices. The security setting defines the type of authentication and encryption used by your router, and the level of privacy protection for data transmitted over its network.

    How do I choose a secure router? ›

    A router doesn't need to have all of these to be secure, but it should come with most of them.
    1. In-built security features. ...
    2. WPA3 certification. ...
    3. VPN compatibility. ...
    4. Pre-configured VPN. ...
    5. Facilitates long passwords. ...
    6. Automatic firmware updates, or update notifications.
    Jan 4, 2024

    What is the most secure router protocol? ›

    When choosing from among WEP, WPA, WPA2 and WPA3 wireless security protocols, experts agree WPA3 is best for Wi-Fi security. As the most up-to-date wireless encryption protocol, WPA3 is the most secure choice.

    How to make a router more secure? ›

    However, you can take simple steps right now to boost your router's security and help safeguard your family's data on your home WiFi network.
    1. Turn On Automatic Updates. ...
    2. Turn Off Features You Don't Use. ...
    3. Use Strong Passwords. ...
    4. Change the Default SSID. ...
    5. Use WPA3. ...
    6. Passing the Password Test.
    Oct 6, 2022

    What is the strongest Wi-Fi security setting? ›

    WPA3 Personal is the newest, most secure protocol currently available for Wi-Fi devices.

    Which is the most secure configuration for a home Wi-Fi network? ›

    To encrypt your network, simply update your router settings to either WPA3 Personal or WPA2 Personal. WPA3 is the newer — and best — encryption available, but both will work to scramble your information.

    What is the most secure router from hackers? ›

    Best Secure Routers Picks 2024
    • Aircove AX1800.
    • NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart Wi-Fi Router, R6700 – AC1750.
    • NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart Wi-Fi Router (R7000-100NAS)
    • Aircove Go Portable & Pocket-Sized | Wi-Fi 6 VPN Router | VPN Protection for Travel.

    Does hiding your SSID keep hackers from connecting to your network? ›

    While hiding your SSID can prevent strangers from finding your network, hackers are much more skilled and can find ways to identify your SSID through a variety of techniques. Data packets carry the SSID that points to the network they come from.

    Are some routers more secure than others? ›

    The TP-Link Archer AX11000 is our top pick for the best router for security out of all the routers we've tested to date. Sure, it's a gaming router, but it includes free antivirus, parental controls, and a boatload of wired ports to keep your connected devices safe from eavesdroppers possibly lurking nearby.

    What is the least secure Wi-Fi protocol? ›

    Wi-Fi security protocols like Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), WPA2, and WPA3 are designed to provide different levels of security. For instance, WEP is the oldest and least secure, while WPA3 is the latest and most secure protocol.

    Which Netgear security option should I use? ›

    WPA and WPA2 are easier to use and more secure than WEP, so use WEP only be used when necessary, such as allowing access to a legacy wireless device that does not support WPA, or when creating a wireless bridge. Currently, WPA2 is the best way to secure a wireless network.

    Which is safer WPA2 or WPA3? ›

    Is WPA3 encryption better? Yes, WPA3 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 3) encryption is considered better and more secure than the encryption used in WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 2).

    What is the best security option for Wi-Fi router? ›

    WEP, WPA, and WPA2 are Wi-Fi security protocols that secure wireless connections. They keep your data hidden and protect your communications, while blocking hackers from your network. Generally, WPA2 is the best choice, even though it consumes more processing power to protect your network.

    How do I know my router is secure? ›

    Five ways to check if your router is configured securely
    1. Conduct router connectivity and authentication tests. ...
    2. Perform vulnerability tests on the router. ...
    3. Verify connected devices in the network. ...
    4. Update all devices on the home network. ...
    5. Enable security options.
    Jan 23, 2018

    Should I set WPA2 or WPA3? ›

    Is WPA3 encryption better? Yes, WPA3 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 3) encryption is considered better and more secure than the encryption used in WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 2).

    What are the best Wi-Fi settings on a router? ›

    What are your recommended Wi-Fi router settings?
    • Avoid emoji's in speaker name, router name (SSID) and router password.
    • Make sure that 2.4 GHz 802.11b/g/n and/or 5 GHz 802.11n is activated. ...
    • Use channel 1-11 on 2.4 GHz. ...
    • Use channel 36-48 on 5 GHz.

    Is WPA2-PSK the most secure? ›

    WPA2-PSK, or Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 with Pre-Shared Key, is a more advanced security protocol that uses AES encryption and is more secure than WPA-PSK. It uses a stronger encryption key and has built-in security features to prevent attacks like brute-force and dictionary attacks.

    Is WPA2 more secure than WPA? ›

    However, devices can be patched, and WPA2 is still considered more secure than WEP or WPA.


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