How to give guests access to your Wi-Fi without exposing your network

“Most of us have a steady stream of visitors to our houses—friends, family, landlords, pizza delivery guys, Airbnb travelers—and many of them are going to want access to your wi-fi at some point,” David Nield writes for Gizmodo.

“he normal process would be to hand over the passcode printed on the back of your router, but there’s actually a much better option: a guest access point,” Nield writes. “The main advantage is that this separate network (which appears as a different SSID or network name) is locked out of the rest of your devices. Things like network printers, NAS drives, shared files, and other sensitive network information won’t be available from the guest access point. You’re essentially giving people internet access—and that’s it.”

“Having two wi-fi networks—one for you, one for guests—lets you configure each one for specific needs,” Nield writes. “For example, you can turn off the guest network without affecting anyone one the primary network. You can also restrict how much bandwidth your guest network is allowed to use if you don’t want your guests doing any illegal downloading.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s easy for owners of Apple AirPort base stations to allow guests to use their Internet connection without sharing their password or giving guests access to the rest of your network.

Simply enable the guest networking feature using AirPort Utility and create a separate Wi-Fi network just for guests. Owners can set up the guest network with a different password or with none at all. The primary network, including the owner’s printer(s), attached drives, or other devices remains secure.

To set up a guest network, the AirPort wireless device must be set up to share its public IP address using DHCP and NAT.

1. Open AirPort Utility, located in the Utilities folder in the Applications folder.
2. Select the wireless device on which you want to set up a guest network, then click Edit. Enter the password if necessary.
3. Click Wireless, then select Enable Guest Network.
4. Give the guest network a name.
5. Choose None, WPA/WPA2 Personal, or WPA 2 Personal from the Guest Network Security pop-up menu, and then type a password for the guest network.

Users wanting to join the guest network will then need to enter the guest password, of course.

11 Comments

  1. One problem with Apple’s guest network implementation is that there is no way to limit the bandwidth which the guest network takes up, nor the maximum connection time, nor restrict by MAC address or any other parameters. While this is of course better than nothing, and is fine as a default for most, finer controls would come in very handy in a surprisingly large number of situations.

    1. To be fair, most routers that support a guest network have these same limitations. To get that level of control requires enterprise level hardware or a high-end consumer router.

    1. That’s great. Hope you never need service from them. I had one where the wireless hardware stopped working a few months in. Sent it to them and it was returned in the same state. Sent it back with step by step instructions to recreate the problem taped to it. Five weeks later, they return a new one to me. Of course, I had to get another router in the meantime.

  2. Right, not only can you have a separate guest wifi network, but you can have the main network hidden so that no one will even see it without manually entering the name.

  3. We have a main router which we use for our own devices, with a secondary network for guests, running from an Airport Express.

    The guests are often teenage children, who like to use the WiFi long into the night, so we have the Express powered by a cheap timer that would normally be used for festive lights. It automatically goes off and on at predetermined times. Furthermore if we don’t want them to have internet access at a given time, we just switch it off and the time switch restores power at the next scheduled time.

    There are obviously ways to do this sort of thing via settings, but by using a mechanical time switch, it’s trivially easy for myself and my wife to see what’s happening and to change things when needed.

    The funny thing is that none of the kids have realised that it’s done by a simple time switch, they believe it’s an aspect of our sophisticated router, just as they believe that we get sent activity logs showing every web site viewed on that router and are therefore wary about visiting dodgy sites.

  4. I have a older Airport Extreme and Airport Express. They can both transmit at 2.5 and 5 GHz. I use the Express to extend my network and to use for Airplay for my stereo in my kitchen. How do I get it to only transmit at 5GHz so that my music doesn’t get interrupted when I use the microwave?

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