What is wireless isolation

Lock down your Wi-Fi network using the wireless isolation option on your router

Some routers have a wireless isolation (AP) isolation, station, or client isolation feature that allows you to lock down your Wi-Fi network. This feature is great for businesses with public Wi-Fi networks or for those who are just a little bit paranoid.

This feature restricts and restricts clients connected to the Wi-Fi network. They can neither interact with devices connected to the more secure wired network nor communicate with each other. You can only access the internet.

What this function does

On standard home routers with default settings Any device connected to the router is considered part of the same local network and can communicate with any other device on that network. Whether it is a server connected to the wired network or a mobile device connected to the Wi-Fi network, any device can communicate with any other device. Often times, for obvious reasons, this is not ideal.

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For example, if you're a business with an audience Wi-Fi network: you don't want clients connected to the public Wi-Fi network to have access to your servers and other systems connected to the wired network are. You also probably don't want devices connected to the wired network to be able to communicate with each other, as infected systems may infect other vulnerable systems or malicious users may attempt to access insecure network file shares. You just want to give your customers internet access, and that's all.

At home, you likely have a single router with a multitude of devices attached. There might be a server connected to the wired network, or they might just be wired desktop systems that you want to protect. You may still want to give your guests Wi-Fi access over an encrypted network. However, you may not want your guests to have full access to your entire wired network and all of your wireless devices. Maybe your computers are infected - it is a good idea to limit the damage.

Guest networks vs. wireless isolation

The guest network function of a router can also function similarly. Your router might have both, one, or neither of these features. Many home routers do not have wireless isolation or guest networking capabilities.

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A router's WiFi guest function will generally give you two separate WiFi access points - a primary, secure one for yourself and an isolated one for your guests. Guests joining the guest Wi-Fi network are limited to a completely separate network and have Internet access, but cannot communicate with the main wired network or the primary Wi-Fi network. You may also be able to set separate rules and restrictions for the Guest WiFi network. For example, you can disable Internet access on the guest network at certain times, but enable Internet access for devices on the primary network all the time. If your router doesn't have this feature, you can get it by installing DD-WRT and following our setup process.

Wireless isolation functions are less flawed. Simply enable the isolation option and all clients connected to the Wi-Fi network will be prevented from communicating with other devices on the local network. Through a system of firewall rules, clients connected to the Wi-Fi can only communicate with the Internet, not with each other or with computers on the wired network.

Enable wireless isolation

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Like the other functions of your router, this option will also be available in the web interface of your router, if your router offers this. Note that this feature is not available on every router. Hence, chances are you don't have them on your current router.

This option can generally be found under the advanced WiFi settings. For example, on certain Linksys routers, you can find it under Wireless> Advanced Wireless Settings> AP Isolation.

For some routers, including NETGEAR routers, the option might be on the main page for Wi-Fi settings. On this NETGEAR router, you can find it under Wireless Settings> Wireless Isolation.

Different router manufacturers refer to this feature in a number of different ways, but it is commonly referred to as "isolation".

Note that enabling these features will prevent certain types of wireless features from working. For example, Google's Chromecast help pages indicate that enabling AP isolation will affect the Chromecast's functionality. The Chromecast needs to communicate with other devices on the Wi-Fi network, and wireless isolation blocks that communication.