Most people have a router at home, and most people use it. The most popular router OSes, like Windows and macOS, provide native applications or plugins that make setting up VPN on these platforms easy. However, if you’re looking to set up a VPN on your router for various reasons, things can get a little more complicated. Thankfully, there are alternative solutions. One of them is DD-WRT, the open source project that provides a Linux-based operating system for Wi-Fi routers.
What Is a VPN, And Why Do I Need One?
A VPN, or virtual private network, is a kind of security protocol that allows you to connect to a private network via public networks, like the Internet or a Wi-Fi network, by encrypting all the traffic that flows between your computer and the VPN server.
The benefit of using a VPN is that all your network traffic is encrypted, which makes it harder for hackers and cybercriminals to eavesdrop on what you’re doing. It also adds an extra layer of protection to your device. If you’re connecting to a public network like the Internet, your data is already encrypted as it travels over the network. Adding a VPN layer on top of this encryption adds an extra level of security.
How To Set Up A VPN On Your Router Using DD-WRT
Whether you’re using Windows, macOS, or another operating system, setting up a VPN on your computer is relatively straightforward. All you have to do is download and run the software, create a username and password, and point the software towards a VPN server.
On the other hand, configuring a VPN on your router is a bit more complicated, but not by much. Most routers come with built-in VPN clients that make the process very easy. The built-in clients support all the major VPN protocols, including OpenVPN, L2TP, and IPSec, which means you don’t have to worry about compatibility issues with your software. They are also configured (for the most part) to use the most optimal settings for your network connection.
If, however, you’d like to configure OpenVPN specifically for use with your router, you can do so by following these instructions.
The first step is to check if your router has a built-in VPN client. If it does, great! You can skip to the second step. If it doesn’t, however, you’ll have to look for an OpenVPN client that is compatible with your router. Keep in mind that you’ll have to install this client on your computer and configure it to connect to the VPN server (your router).
Configuring VPN For DD-WRT Using PuTTY
Once you’ve downloaded and installed the OpenVPN app on your computer, you can connect to the VPN server (your router) simply by clicking the network manager icon in the system tray and selecting your VPN connection.
Alternatively, you can configure your router to connect to the VPN server via the Settings > Advanced > VPN > LAN tab (or the VPN configuration screen if you’re using the web-based interface).
On the VPN configuration screen, you can set various options, like the VPN server address (what IP address should your router use to connect to the VPN server), the username and password (if you’re using a public VPN server with an easy to remember password), and the security type, which can be either Encryption or Authentication.
If you’re using Encryption, you’ll need to plug your router into a wifi network and select a wifi network provider. You’ll then need to provide your router with the WPA2 password of the network you’ve selected.
As for Authentication, it’s highly recommended to use it. However, if you’d like to use OpenVPN with your router, you can disable Authentication by clicking the Disable button next to it. This will prevent your router from asking for user authentication when a network attack is reported, but it will also render your router useless with respect to the VPN service. So be careful when deciding whether to use OpenVPN with Authentication or not.
The Usefulness Of A VPN
VPNs should not be seen as a replacement for better security, but rather as an additional layer of security. They do not provide perfect security, and they are not meant to. The main purpose of a VPN is to offer an additional layer of security to your network traffic so that you can feel more comfortable sharing sensitive information, like credit card numbers, on public networks like the Internet.
More Info On VPNs
If you’d like, you can read more about VPNs and what they are and aren’t good for in this detailed article from the Trouble Free Router wiki.