Is A Wi-Fi Extender Network Secure? (Plus Tips On Securing)

Wi-Fi extenders/repeaters/boosters can be really useful products to expand wireless coverage in the home, but one common question is whether they’re actually secure to use. Is the connection/network to a Wi-Fi extender secure? Can we browse safely over a Wi-Fi extender connection, without needing to worry about security and hacking?

Wi-Fi extenders are as secure as any other Wi-Fi network, with a reasonable level of security on modern WPA3 or WPA2-PSK protocols, but not infallible or impenetrable. Using extenders on older WPA or WEP protocols is not recommended.

The process of configuring Wi-Fi extenders creates a secured, encrypted network very similar to what your main router does. In other words, using an extender is really just like connecting to another “mini” router, which is in turn connected to another router, with both using secure encryption protocols of some type (as long as you’ve set them up properly).

Particular risk factors are using older extender models that may still use the outdated WEP/WPA security protocols, which are no longer safe.

Someone who knows what they’re doing can hack into a Wi-Fi extender’s network, as they could with ANY Wi-Fi connection/network. including to your main router. But the likelihood of one of these skilled hacker being near to where you are right now is very low in most residences, so taking some common sense precautions should see you fine using Wi-Fi extenders.

We’ll run through these precautions, as well as offering a few more advanced “ninja tips” to really boost the security on any extender network you’re connected to.

How To Create A Secure Wireless Network With An Extender

It should be said that when you plug in brand new Wi-Fi extenders out the box, they initially broadcast a totally open, unsecured network, with a really obvious name (eg. “TP-Link-Repeater”). You don’t even need a password for this; you just click on it to connect and start the set up process.

But the very process of setting up a Wi-Fi extender by connecting it to your router forces you to create a secured network for your extender, making it more protected. In other words, it’s built into the setup process on all extenders to make the user secure it’s network. So as long as the router it’s connecting to also has a secure network with it’s own password, security is in a sense taken care of on a basic level.

To get the best level of security, it’s best to set up a Wi-Fi extender on a device browser, rather than WPS setup. Here are the quick steps:

  1. Plug the extender in near the router for initial setup
  2. Note down login details on your extender on the label and plug it in. Also note down your router’s wireless password, and change it to make it strong if it’s weak.
  3. Find the extender’s SSID (network name) on your device and connect
  4. Open any web browser on your phone/tablet and type in the access URL (on the label) into the address bar
  5. Enter the default admin username/password on the label (see screenshot below)
  6. Set up a new admin username/password if desired (make these strong for better security)
  7. Find and connect to your router’s Wi-Fi network on the list.
  8. Either copy or modify your router’s credentials for the repeater (if the option is available on this step to make the network hidden, do so for better security).
  9. Save settings and connect the device to the new extender network, which will have the same password as your main router.
  10. A green light and a new extender network appearing on your Wi-Fi list indicates the repeater is connected and working.
  11. Then move the extender round to where you need it, still making sure it is within range of the router’s signal

See our full article on extender browser setup for more detailed steps.

Making An Extender Network More Secure

The basic setup process for a repeater creates a new wireless extender network with an acceptable level of security, no better or worse than most routers for examples. Wi-Fi networks of any type do have vulnerabilities – see here and here for some interesting articles on this.

But here’s some extra tips to make an extender network a bit more secure (some points will be expanded on in later sections):

  • Make sure your router also has a secured network set up, with a password (never leave router networks as open/unsecured, even in private homes).
  • Set up your extender via the manual browser method, not using the quicker WPS method, which offers less customizability and security in how you configure it.
  • Make the extender wireless password long, complex and unique (of course, your extender copies/clones your router’s password by default, so make this password strong).
  • Also set very strong and non-guessable admin username/password for your extender, to protect access to the extender’s settings.
  • Change the router/extender wireless password at intervals.
  • Be sure to use the WPA3 wireless protocol on your extender if available, and WPA2 as next best . Don’t use WPA or WEP protocols as they’re no longer secure.
  • Hide your extender’s network for more security (more on this below)
  • Implement MAC filtering or access control within the extender’s settings to block or allow certain devices.
  • Use a VPN to add another layer of encryption to your connection (more below).

Key Tip #1 – Change Your Repeater’s Wireless Security Protocol If Necessary

On most newer extender models, this should be taken care of and you shouldn’t have to worry about. But on older extender models you might have been using for a while, you could be on an older wireless security protocol that you should get off.

Here’s a general order of common Wi-Fi security protocols, from the oldest and weakest to the newest/strongest:

  • WEP – Oldest, not secure, don’t use this
  • WPA – Quite old, not secure, don’t use this
  • WPA2 – Better than WPA, but still has vulnerabilities. Use as backup if WPA3 not available. The best WPA2 option is WPA/WPA2-PSK (TKIP/AES) if available.
  • WPA3 – Newest and best protocol. Use this if available.
  • For the Cipher Mode on older WPA 2 encryption, the best mode is the combined TKIP/AES mode, rather than either on it’s own. AES and TKIP are still usable standalone, but the combined protocol is better.

See here and here for articles comparing these different protocols. Not all Wi-Fi extenders will support WPA3, but always seek to use it if available.

Log in to your extender and change the Wi-Fi security protocol if necessary. Here are the steps:

  • Log into your extender’s settings by typing in the access URL into the browser bar of any connected device:
      • TP Link –
      • Netgear –
      • Linksys –
      • Wavlink –
  • Enter the admin username/password (which will be custom values you set if you already configured it).
  • Browse around the extender settings to find Wireless or Security tab
  • Switch the security protocol to WPA3 (preferred) or WPA2-PSK with TKIP/AES Cipher (backup) if on an older standard.

This one doesn’t have WPA3, but you’d preferably use the WPA2-PSK one as a second best. Avoid WPA or WEP.

Key Tip #2 – Hide Your Extender Network (Disable Broadcast)

While you’re in the extender’s settings/admin panel, there’s also another thing you can do quickly and easily to make the network more secure. You can hide it’s network, effectively stopping it from broadcasting it’s SSID/network name to nearby devices.

This means no one else in any nearby houses/apartments will know your extender network even exists, which reduces the risk of hacking.

Here’s how you do this:

  • Log in to your extender admin/settings, as detailed in the steps above.
  • Find the Wireless or similar settings.
  • There is usually a box to check to “Hide network” or “disable broadcast” or similar. Sometimes it’s the other way round, where you uncheck the box to hide the network.
  • Check/uncheck whatever you need to to stop the extender broadcasting it’s network.


However, doing this, you do need to make a note of your extender’s SSID and password, since you won’t be able to find it’s network any more by pulling up the Wi-Fi list on your device. It’ll be totally hidden and you’ll have to do a manual search for it on your device’s Wi-Fi settings, using it’s exact name, to find it again.

This can be a great security tool, but if you forget your hidden extender’s SSID/password, you’re screwed and will have to factory reset it and re-configurate it all over from scratch. Some remember those details.

Key Tip #3 – Implement Access Control

This is another great little security measure in almost all extenders whereby you can restrict access to it’s network, either blocking certain devices, or only allowing certain approved devices on it’s network.

To do this, search for an Access Control feature when inside your extender’s admin panel, sometimes under the Advanced or Access or Security tab or similar:

Sort out which device belongs to whom by MAC address or name, and block or kick off any you don’t want on the extender’s network.

From there, you can implement some kind of permanent access control, either through a Whitelist (most strict) or Blacklist (less strict):

Blacklist – You enter the MAC address of specific devices you want to block from the network, and those devices now cannot access the extender’s, even with the correct password. But all other devices can if in range with the correct password.

Whitelist – You enter the MAC address of only the devices you want to allow on the network, and from then on, ONLY those devices can connect. All other devices are blocked by default. Best option if you really want the maximum security on an extender’s network.

See our article on viewing devices connected to your extender, and implementing access control, for more detailed steps.

Key Tip #4 – Use A VPN To Secure Your Connection

This is another security measure you can implement at least on the device side, to make wireless connections more secure. A VPN or Virtual Private Network is a piece of software you can install on a device to add another very strong layer of encryption to all internet traffic sent to and from it.

So your router and extender implement a kind of encryption of their own to connection, but you can add another layer of your own using a VPN, making traffic basically impossible to intercept or hack, at least on that device.

Using a VPN is simple, you just download the app, install and activate, select a server location of your choice and open the connection. All internet traffic is then routed through strongly encrypted servers in the location you selected, adding another layer of security to that device’s traffic, alongside whatever encryption is on the extender’s network.

There are some good free VPNs you can try to get a feel for how they work:

ProviderFree Server LocationsData Limit
ProtonVPN3 (USA, Amsterdam, Japan)Unlimited
AtlasVPN3 (USA East, USA West, Amsterdam)5 GB/month
TurboVPN4 (USA, Germany, Singapore, India).Unlimited
ZoogVPN5 (USA, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Singapore)10 GB/month
Hide.me5 (Netherlands, USA*2, Germany, Canada)10 GB/month
PrivadoVPN10 (USA, UK, Canada, Germany, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina)10 GB/month
Windscribe10 (USA, UK, Canada, Hong Kong, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Romania, Denmark).10 GB/month
Tunnelbear49500 MB/month


And then some Premium VPN options with unlimited use, more servers and better support/features:

  • Private Internet Access (PIA) – Super cheap price of $3.33/month, servers in 80+ countries, very reliable longstanding brand.
  • NordVPN – Excellent reputation for unblocking streaming services, servers in 60+ countries, double encryption, but a bit more pricey at $5/month
  • ExpressVPN – Most expensive VPN at around $8/month, but best reputation for getting streaming services to work.
  • PrivadoVPN – Super cheap pricing, no nonsense VPN with servers in just the main countries you’d expect, but works great as a budget option.
  • Surfshark – Reasonably priced option with loads of countries/servers, good for streaming access.
  • Editor’s pick – PIA has the best of everything plus low price, so I’d try this one first. PrivadoVPN if looking solely for lowest price (use our link for discount).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts