How To Secure Your Chromecast When Using Open Wi-Fi

Chromecast is a Google-developed and-manufactured hardware gadget that allows you to broadcast video to your TV wirelessly.

Instead of requiring a cable connection, you may use the Chromecast gadget to stream digital music, video, and photos via Wi-Fi. If you have a movie on your phone and want to view it on your TV, you may connect it to your TV using Chromecast instead of a cable – and without any wires.

How The Chromecast Works And How To Solve Your Networking Problems When You’re Not At Home

How To Solve Your Networking Problems When You're Not At Home

The Chromecast system’s basic setup is straightforward. It works like a mini hotspot when first set up, with the only goal of you connecting to it to configure it and teach it how to connect to a more extensive and more functioning network. 

You enter the credentials for the Wi-Fi network you want it to connect to, and it connects. You can operate the Chromecast from that point forward as long as you’re on the same network (and have access to it across the web).

It is possible to relocate this configuration from your house to an area with open Wi-Fi, but not by using the usual Chromecast setup method. Suppose, for example; you stay in a bed and breakfast or a small non-chain hotel with simple Wi-Fi setups. In that case, you might be able to replicate the easy at-home setup, but in huge hotel chains with controlled infrastructures, the simple setup procedure breaks apart.

There are two significant issues to consider when setting up a Chromecast on a hotel open Wi-Fi network. The first issue is that the network may have an AP/client isolation set on, isolating each client on the Wi-Fi network from the others. 

This AP isolation is an excellent security feature that stops other hotel guests from accessing your gadgets (if you, for example, mistakenly turned on network sharing for the Wi-Fi network and left your shared folders wide open). Unfortunately, AP isolation breaks the Chromecast since it needs to communicate with other network devices (notably, the smartphone, tablet, or computer you’re using to control it). There’s no way to get around the above restriction without bringing in more gear.

The second issue is authentication splash screens, which require you to pause at a splash page and accept terms of service and verify yourself as a genuine user of the Wi-Fi system before you can log in. This authentication is a hassle, but you can get around it with a bit of imagination.

Let’s look at a few different ways to get the Chromecast online in your hotel room with open Wi-Fi, and you may choose the option that best fits your budget and patience.

1. Use A Portable Router To Set Up Your Network.

Ethernet jacks are in almost all modern hotel rooms. Ethernet jacks symbolize a type of doorway to Narnia where data travels freely and quickly in an era where everyone is connected wirelessly, and the majority of a hotel’s security efforts get concentrated on the wireless network. In our experience, hotel room Ethernet ports are seldom protected in any way, allowing you just to put in a device and go.

How does this help in your effort to get the Chromecast’s Wi-Fi-only version online? It advantages you since you can use a travel router to bridge the Wi-Fi gap on your terms. You only need a small portable router and an Ethernet wire to start. To configure the Chromecast, plug the mobile router into an Ethernet socket in your room, turn it on, and connect to it with your smartphone, tablet, or computer, just as you would at home.

You may conduct a trial run at home to complete all of the settings (so that when you put the router and Chromecast into the hotel’s open Wi-Fi, they’ll instantly start communicating).

If the hotel has a login/authentication splash page for Ethernet users, you may visit it with one of your devices, which is uncommon (when connected to the Wi-Fi through a router). All connected devices have access to the router with a single IP/MAC address (much like your home router).

The security system will enable everything linked to the portable Wi-Fi router, including the Chromecast, to pass through after you agree to the terms of agreement with one device through the unified access point.

2. Clone Your MAC Address To Get Around The Splash Screen

Assume you’re staying in a hotel that doesn’t have AP isolation enabled, which is fantastic since it allows your Chromecast and controlling device (laptop) to communicate with each other. If the hotel has an authentication splash screen, though, you’ll have a significant issue, the Chromecast won’t be able to handle the procedure.

Here’s where you’ll have to think beyond the box. The MAC address of the device connecting to the network always gets used in the authentication procedure. The MAC address of the Chromecast gets displayed in the lower corner of the Wi-Fi settings screen during the Chromecast setup procedure. 

You may spoof the Chromecast’s MAC address on your laptop or portable device and complete the authentication procedure on the Chromecast to deceive the network into allowing your Chromecast to join. Take the following actions.

1. Connect the Chromecast and get far enough through the setup procedures to view the MAC address (or if you have super sharp eyes, read it off the back of the dongle).

2. Turn off the Chromecast.

3. Change the MAC address of the device to the MAC address of the Chromecast using the relevant tool or settings menu on your device.

4. Complete the authentication procedure with a web browser.

5. Return your device’s MAC address to its original setting. (You may need to reboot.)

6. Using the device’s original MAC address, verify its authenticity.

Reconnect the Chromecast.

Both of your devices (the Chromecast and the controlling device) will be connected to the network at this point. Because some networks’ authentication expires after a certain amount of time (usually 24 hours), you’ll have to repeat this step every day. It’s cumbersome because it only works if AP isolation is off on the Wi-Fi network.

Security Measures To Undertake When Using Chromecast With Open Wi-Fi

Chromecasts are well-known for being vulnerable to hacking. Your roommate may playfully mess with your streaming, and malevolent third parties may gain access to your personal information. Unfortunately, many Chromecasts have been reported to be vulnerable to DDoS-like assaults.

Cybercriminals may do far more than disrupt your broadcast if they target your equipment. They can track your location, obtain information about your Wi-Fi network, and even access other sensitive data. Fortunately, by following a few basic principles, you can improve the security of your Chromecast.

1. Turn Off “Guest Mode”

The Chromecast’s “Guest Mode” can be helpful if you want to use it without connecting to a Wi-Fi network, but it has not been recommended.

Essentially, “Guest Mode” causes Chromecast to transmit a unique Wi-Fi beacon. When it does, a Chromecast-enabled device may identify the beacon, connect to Chromecast, and begin casting on your screen.

Yes, Chromecast creates a four-digit PIN that must be entered by the guest device to cast to your screen. When the gadget in question tries to connect to Chromecast, the PIN will be instantly delivered to it through an inaudible audio tone. If the audio tone fails, the guest device owner will only receive the PIN and manually enter it.

To deactivate “Guest Mode,” perform the following steps:

1. Open the Google Home app.

2. In the upper right corner, click “Devices.”

3. Find your Chromecast and tap the card menu in the top right corner to access the it.

4. Turn off “Guest Mode” by going to “Guest Mode.”

2. Only Connect To Secure Networks.

Chromecast should only be used on your home network, not on any public or unprotected networks (and that includes hotel Wi-Fi). Hackers may monitor traffic on unsecured networks, making them risky.

When it comes to safeguarding your network, WPA2 is preferable over WEP. Because WEP passwords can be brute-forced, it isn’t very secure. 

Here are some more methods to secure your network and ensure your Chromecast stays safe:

1. Make sure the firmware on your router is up to date. Updates are typically deployed or alerted to you when you connect to the web-based user interface or utilize the manufacturer’s app. If that doesn’t work, look for the “Update” option under the “Settings” menu.

2. Change the username and password for your router. “admin/admin” and “admin/password” are insufficient. Remember that you must instead secure your router because you can’t directly secure Chromecast with a password.

3. Turn off WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) if your router supports it. Using a PIN instead of a more complicated password is risky since PINs are more vulnerable to brute-force assaults.

4. If your router has “Remote Management” or “Remote Administration” activated, disable them.

3. Make Use Of A VPN Service

You may go the extra mile with a VPN and encrypt your network traffic to safeguard your Chromecast further. All of your Wi-Fi data will be encrypted, making it impossible for anyone to eavesdrop on it and steal important information like what you’re watching or where you are. In addition, a VPN will allow you to access geo-restricted applications and material, which you can then cast to your screen.

Although Chromecast does not directly support VPN software, you may set up a VPN on your network instead. In this manner, the VPN will safeguard your Chromecast anytime it connects to your Wi-Fi.

Conclusion 

While Chromecast doesn’t have any significant security concerns, it never hurts to be cautious. If you follow our instructions for securing Chromecast, you should relax and enjoy some peace of mind while also better protecting your internet data and traffic.

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