If there’s one cybersecurity tool that you need to keep yourself private and safe online, it’s a virtual private network. Using a VPN service is easy, relatively inexpensive and can be done on a smartphone, tablet or computer.
The majority of VPN service providers have apps that can be downloaded to the device of your choosing to simplify the process of connecting to a VPN server. But what if the device you want to use does not support your VPN provider’s app?
This is likely the case if you use a gaming console, a Roku, a smart TV or any other similar device. If you use one or several of these devices, but feel unprotected because you cannot use a VPN with them, then this guide is for you.
Instead of using the VPN on the device itself, you can install it on your Linksys wireless router to provide privacy and security for all of your devices.
To find out how, read on.
Installing New Firmware on Your Linksys Router
The first step you need to take is to install new firmware on your router. In this case, we will be using DD-WRT firmware, as this is the only firmware that can be used for this process. Make sure that the VPN service you’ve signed up for supports DD-WRT routers. An alternative to this is to use a router that already has the DD-WRT firmware installed.
Before proceeding, make sure to read the precautions outlined on the DD-WRT website. The process is fairly simple but needs to be followed carefully to avoid causing permanent damage to your router.
Once you have read and understood the precautions, you can download the appropriate firmware using the DD-WRT guide. Make sure that you have the information about your specific router available so you download the correct files.
After downloading the correct firmware, follow one of the three methods detailed on the DD-WRT website linked to above. Using the user interface for your particular router is likely the simplest option, and the instructions should apply to most Linksys routers.
Installing a VPN on your Linksys Router
After you have installed the DD-WRT firmware on your router, it’s time to install the VPN. To do so, complete the following steps:
- Sign in to your VPN account and then go to the Options or Settings
- Click on Manual Config and then click OpenVPN.
- Download the .ovpn file, making sure you know where it’s being saved on your computer.
- Go to the configuration page of your Linksys router. You can do this by opening your web browser and typing the IP address of your router in the address bar. Unless you manually changed it, your router’s IP address should be 168.1.1.
- Find the DD-WRT control panel and click the Services Then click VPN.
- Enable the Start OpenVPN client option.
You will need to enter some information into the OpenVPN client window. To find the information you need to enter, open the .ovpn file you downloaded earlier using the text editor utility on your computer.
If you’re using a Windows computer you should already have Notepad, while Mac users will have an app called TextEdit. Either of these will work to complete the next steps.
Once you’ve opened the .ovpn file in your text editor app, complete the following steps:
- In the first line in the file that starts with the word “remote” (usually line 6 of the file), you should see the Server Name and Port The Port value is the number at the very end of the line while the Server Name is the rest of the line, excluding the word “remote” at the beginning. Enter these values into their respective boxes in the OpenVPN client window.
- In the .ovpn file, find where it says <tls-auth>. Once you’ve found it, scroll down a bit further to find where it says </tls-auth>. Between these two tags, there should be a long string of numbers and letters preceded by a line that says BEGIN OpenVPN Static Key V1 and succeeded by a line that says END OpenVPN Static Key V1. Highlight and copy the first line, the alphanumeric string and the last line and paste them into the TLS Auth Key box in the OpenVPN client window.
- Look in the .ovpn file for a <ca> tag and a </ca> Following a similar procedure to the one followed in step 2, highlight and copy the text between these two tags, including the BEGIN and END lines, and paste it into the CA Cert box in the OpenVPN client window.
- Repeat these steps for the Public Client Cert box using the tags <cert> and </cert>.
- Repeat these steps for the Private Client box using the tags <key> and </key>.
- Click Save and then click Apply Settings. You can then ensure that your VPN connection is working by going to Status and clicking OpenVPN. Under State you should see “Client: CONNECTED SUCCESS” if your VPN connection is working properly.
Your VPN connection should be working properly after following these steps. If not, you may have missed a step as this is a fairly lengthy process. Go back through the DD-WRT firmware installation steps and then the VPN installation steps to ensure you followed them exactly.
Additional Benefits of Installing a VPN on Your Router
Having a VPN installed on your router is a smart way to provide security for your devices on which you otherwise would be unable to use a VPN. While this may be reason enough for you to follow this guide, there are some additional benefits to installing a VPN on your router.
While VPNs are invaluable tools for safeguarding your online security, they have to be turned on in order to function. On individual devices like smartphones and computers, VPNs may become disconnected if the user changes locations or accidentally switches it off. But with a VPN installed on your router, every device’s connection is routed through the VPN server, meaning your connection is protected even when your VPN is not enabled on the device you’re using.
Another benefit of installing a VPN on your router is that it saves time. Instead of having to install the VPN client on each of your devices, you can install it once on your router and protect all of your devices that are connected to it.
Following this guide will protect all of your devices and will only require you to complete a single installation process.
A final added benefit of installing a VPN on your wireless router is that your VPN account will be better protected. Installing a VPN on multiple devices for multiple people requires that the login information for your VPN account will be spread across potentially more than a dozen devices, greatly increasing the vulnerability of your account information. But if you’ve installed a VPN on your router alone, your information is much safer, which was the purpose of using a VPN in the first place.