F-Secure SENSE Router – more security for your home network

As more devices in our homes are connected to the internet, we need to think more about how to secure all the beautiful things IoT from dishonest friends. With the F-Secure SENSE router, the security specialists from F-Secure have therefore brought a device onto the market with which they promise exactly that.

Why a dedicated security router?

The idea behind the F-Secure SENSE router is not a bad one. Because more and more baddies who want to set up a botnet, for example, no longer attack individual PCs, but attack much more defenseless machines: webcams, printers, routers, refrigerators, coffee machines, heating controls, … just all those devices that we like nowadays to connect to the internet.

Often enough, attackers take advantage of the fact that the manufacturers of these devices do not have the opportunity or the desire to sufficiently seal their smart household helpers against cyber attacks.


And unlike our PCs or smartphones, on which we can at least install something like antivirus software, we as end users usually have no way of hardening the various components of our smart home should the manufacturers bungle on this front. The Mirai botnet , which specialized in Internet of Things devices and caused around 900,000 Telekom routers to crash in Germany alone, can serve as an example.

However, there are ways to protect your own home devices from cyber inconveniences, for example by keeping your own network free of malware. And this is where F-Secure comes in with the SENSE router.

F-Secure SENSE: How does it work?

The device sets up a transparent proxy and, for each connection via the HTTP protocol, first checks whether, for example, the website you are trying to access is known to distribute malware. Websites classified as harmful are then blocked directly by the SENSE router so that they cannot store malware on your devices.

In addition to this function called “Browsing Protection”, SENSE also offers the option of protecting your privacy with the feature called “Tracking Protection” by filtering out curiously sniffing scripts and cookies from the traffic.

Speaking of privacy: According to F-Secure, your traffic is not actively searched, passed through F-Secure servers, or anything similar. The SENSE router also leaves the HTTPS protocol untouched, so encrypted transmissions remain encrypted. As long as your subscription for the SENSE services is running (more on that later), the router automatically receives updates and is therefore always up to date. F-Secure is an old hand when it comes to security and has a pretty good overview of which websites, for example, are currently spreading malicious code.

So much for the functions that the SENSE router itself provides without you having to do much. F-Secure also offers apps for smartphones and desktop PCs for additional protection. In combination with F-Secure’s Security Cloud, SENSE offers a three-tier security model that should work quite reliably in practice. Of course, it is important that all Internet-enabled devices in your household are connected directly to the SENSE router.

Setup and operation

But now we come to practice: How is the setup and operation of the F-Secure SENSE router? The short answer: It’s fast and uncomplicated.


As soon as you have unpacked the SENSE router and connected it to the internet via cable or WLAN, all you have to do is get the smartphone app for iOS or Android and you are good to go. The setup itself only takes a few steps because the app does a lot of work for you and, for example, automatically opens two encrypted WLANs and copies the password to your clipboard.

You can intervene here and there and, for example, rename your WLAN – but you don’t have much influence. This may be a bit sobering for experienced users, but less experienced users will surely be happy about the fact that the first setup can be completed in less than 10 minutes. Even after the installation process, a lot runs completely automatically. Your administration options are correspondingly limited.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to configure the router via your desktop PC – you need the smartphone app for this.

performance and interfaces

Once the setup is complete, the SENSE router does its job calmly. All the chic security functions run unobtrusively in the background, so in day-to-day use, it is hardly noticeable that this is a router with extended security features. Should you ever find yourself surfing the web on a website that F-Secure has classified as unsafe, you will see a lock screen. It is also pleasing that your devices or your connection speed are not slowed down.

Unfortunately, F-Secure was a bit stingy with the interfaces. Unfortunately, the admittedly quite chic, white case only has 3 LAN ports, a WAN port, and a single USB socket, which at least offers USB 3.0.


As befits a modern router, the F-Secure SENSE naturally has WLAN on board according to the IEEE 802.11ac standard, which means it supports modern 5GHz networks with a speed of up to one gigabit per second. Unfortunately, what sounds very good in theory is not entirely convincing in practice. Under ideal conditions standing right next to the router, we achieved a speed of around 160 Mbit/s down and around 190 Mbit/s upstream in the 5GHz WLAN. We reached a maximum of 40 Mbit up and down in the 2.4 GHz network.

As is usual with wireless connections, the achievable speed drops noticeably as soon as you move away from the router. At the other end of our office floor, where the WiFi signal has to pass through several drywalls, we still achieved around 5 Mbit up and 69 Mbit down at 5 GHz, and 2 and 15 Mbit/s at 2.4 GHz.

Even if many users will hardly notice the difference between 100 and 1000 Mbit/s in daily use – peak values ​​look different. And with a router that costs €150, you could certainly have expected a little better WLAN performance. A pity.

Purchase price and running costs

Speaking of the costs: Currently (March 2018) the F-Secure SENSE router costs €149.99 in our shop. In order to be able to use all the features of the router, a subscription to the security functions is also required, which costs €9.90 per month. However, the first 12 months of the subscription are already included in the purchase price of the router.

If you decide not to renew the subscription after the first 12 months, you can continue to use the router – but you will then have to do without the specific security features.


The F-Secure SENSE router is based on an interesting and good idea: to better secure the growing number of Internet-enabled devices in households while remaining easy to use. Many inexpensive IoT devices are likely to experience something like IT security for the first time through SENSE. On the other hand, professionals who want to take their security into their own hands will probably not find much joy in F-Secure SENSE. You just don’t have enough configuration options for that.

The price is definitely considered high. In return, you get a router that cuts a pretty good figure when it is visible in the living room, but it weakens in some areas, for example in terms of WLAN. You must also be aware that you can only benefit from the security features in the long term if you continue the subscription for €9.90 a month after the twelve-month test phase.

Of course, the router is also no substitute for common sense or even professional security guidelines. But for security-conscious private users who do not want their coffee machine to suddenly become part of a botnet, the device should be of interest.

Technical specifications

  • WLAN Standard(s): 802.11ac, 802.11n, 802.11b/g, 802.11a
  • Frequencies: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz
  • Security: WPA2
  • Connections : 3x Gigabit Ethernet (LAN), 1x Gigabit Ethernet (WAN), 1x USB 3.0
  • Hardware: Vier Antennen (intern), 1,0 GHz Dual Core CPU, 512 MB RAM