The F-Secure SENSE is a quite an exciting product in the world of routers. It the first hardware product from F-Secure, but it is also a router that has been designed from the ground up to be completely secure (if that’s possible). The router itself is not only secure but uses proprietary threat management software from F-Secure to secure your entire network.
The F-Secure SENSE is strictly just a router, there is no modem inside, so you will need your ADSL modem/router plugged into the WAN port of the SENSE, then all your other devices plugged into the SENSE.
It is built using the OpenWrt open source router software and then the F-Secure proprietary software is put on top of that. Any security issues F-Secure find with OpenWrt are released as part of the open source nature, but their proprietary code is strictly proprietary. One of the ways they keep the router secure is regular updates that are automatically applied. This means F-Secure can push a security update in a matter of hours if needs be. There is a potential issue here, in that how long are F-Secure willing to update the SENSE? If you look at the Android market it is in a shocking state as far as updates go. But F-Secure assured me they intend to keep the device updated for several years, though no specific length of time.
The SENSE only has 3 × RJ45 Ethernet 10/100/1000 Mbps ports which are a little less than competing brands. The WiFi specification is also good but not class leading with 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 2.4GHz, 5GHz, AC 1750.
It also has Bluetooth 4.0 (BLE) which I don’t think is used for anything other than the setup and securing of the router.
The router is an attractive all white design with a built-in clock. The clock part seems pointless but the display is actually fundamental in setting up and securing the router.
Setup is very simple, but you have to use your mobile and set it up through the F-Secure SENSE app, the whole router is then managed through this. This is a deliberate decision to help secure the router further. If you could login via a browser people would use insecure passwords and it would open it up to hacking attempts.
Once you have downloaded the app you need press the blue button on the router then input the code on the router into your phone. Once the devices are paired you can change the WiFi SSID and password. So, you can easily change it to the old details and therefore all your devices would be able to access the WiFi without setting everything up again.
The app is quite simple to navigate and there are not a huge amount of options. The first screen shows the number of devices protected and the threats blocked. If you click on devices you can then see a list of all the devices and the SENSE will try and detect what type of device it is, making it easier to manage.
When you click on the device you can see what threats have been blocked on that device as well as any tracking that has been blocked. It shows you the basic device details including IP etc, and you can block the internet per device.
Under the more option, you have your event log with new devices added and threats detected. You can also manage the protection of the network, you can enable protection for all devices, tracking protection and browser protection.
Under the network option you can change the WiFi details, and more importantly, change the WAN details. This will be very important for some people because you be using two networks, one between the internet router which in my case was 192.168.1.* and then the network the SENSE creates, which in my case was 192.168.71.*. The problem here is if you sue any devices on the network that use static IPs everything is going to break. I personally have a server with a static IP, and in general, I like to keep all my devices using the same IPs which I can force under my old router.
So, with the SENSE you will need to change your old router to a new IP structure, then manually change the SENSE to the old IP structure you are using.