Best Router 2016: How To Buy The Best Wireless Router To Protect Your Home

A router is a hacker's front door to your life.

Wireless routers aren’t sexy, they never have been. They’re usually a drab black box that sits surrounding by wires collecting dust in your living room.

In today’s world though, that dust-covered box is essentially a hacker’s front door to your laptop, smartphone, TV and more.

Google WiFi is the company's first router that hopes to get you enthused about them again.
Google WiFi is the company's first router that hopes to get you enthused about them again.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

With the recent news that hackers are now using people’s household items as weapons for cyberattacks there have never been a more important time to protect your home from ransomware, viruses and more.

To help cut through the technobabble and simply explain what you should be looking for we’ve enlisted the expert knowledge of Shaul Levi, Chief Scientist at AVG Innovation Labs.

Levi knows all too well that routers have got a bad name.

“Nobody cares about routers.” he explains. “For decades they’ve been commodity hardware running commodity software, relegated to the corners of our homes and offices, unsophisticated tethers to the wider online world.”

“But once you look a little closer you’ll see that this humble machine is now the main entry point to your home and a shared bridge for all your connected devices.”

How to buy a router that will keep you safe online:

1. Don’t buy one more than 2 years old

This is a no-brainer but your router needs to be able to deal with many devices connected at once. The older ones just won’t cut it. But this is just the basics. As more homes start becoming IoT environments, with our thermostats and lightbulbs all linked, you also need to make sure your router is protecting your home by monitoring network traffic and ensuring that the bad guys can’t get in. Old routers never did this

2. Don’t get hung up on signal, but look out for mesh

Wifi technology is changing and the power of your router isn’t as important as it once was. The emergence of mesh technology means instead of buying one all-singing, all-dancing router, you’re better off buying one solid secure core and then connecting extenders to amplify the signal from that.

Remember the router is the door to your home so as long as you ensure it’s bulletproof, everything inside that network is safe.

3. Software is the new hardware

Remember the old saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover?’ Well the same applies to routers. All of them look almost the same on the outside, but what has changed over the past few years is the software that they run on. Now routers are getting smart software with powerful user interfaces and apps.

Make sure you check out that feature list and get a glimpse of what the interface looks like. Want to turn off access to the kids devices at bedtime? Or ensure you have enough bandwidth allocated to your Apple TV to stream a movie? The next generation routers should all come with security, parental locks and other functionality as standard.

Just look at Innovation Lab’s Chime project which Amped Wireless’ recently integrated into their new range. Chime is a fully fledged operating system for routers and that’s something absolutely essential for when you’re making your next choice.