How to Use a VPN with Smart TV

smart tv
Smart TVs are vulnerable to hacking. Here’s how to use a VPN on your smart TV through a router, PC, Mac or Android to secure and encrypt its data.

Apps, channels and options for input streams from any smart device are here. Your smart TV is ready to follow your directions through any input channel you want, even gesture commands.

But are these “smart” services really secure? This is the ultimate question in the age of Internet of Things.

Being skeptical is perfectly understandable. Actually, it is a bit of a shock in the tech community if one isn’t. After all, companies have been fined on listening in on unsuspecting users, smart TVs have been hacked and turned into bots that share your personal information, and even the cameras in them have been turned on without having physical access to the device. That was just in 2017…

Being careful is the order of the day. So don’t feel judgement if you want to secure the traffic that goes through your smart TV by connecting it to a Virtual Private Network.

Nobody wants another Mirai Botnet.

So let’s get to it… read on below for the available options for using a VPN with your smart TV and follow the one that suits your situation best. We’ve categorized them by the level of convenience and time it takes to complete the process.  

Install a VPN on Your Router – Super Easy

The most basic way of using a VPN would be to have it enabled right at the source of your internet—your router.

Once you have a VPN running on your router, anything connected to it will automatically be using a VPN as well. You will also be connecting multiple devices at the same time and using your choice of VPN on them.

wireless router and a young man using a smartphone
The most basic way of using a VPN would be to have it enabled right at the source of your internet—your router.

You could do this in one of three ways:

1.    Get a VPN Enabled Router:

The easiest way forward is to get a router that already has a VPN embedded into its firmware. Many of the top VPN service providers are offering these, for a higher price. Just plug them in and enjoy the services.

2.    Get a VPN Compatible Router:

These are routers whose firmware supports the installation of VPN software. Usually, all the top VPN service providers are compatible with these so you will have a wide array of options to choose from. With a little bit lower price, you will only have to manage to install and run the VPN yourself.

3.    Flash a Router Yourself:

Flashing a router means to re-install its firmware. Only go for this option if you love getting your hands dirty, well virtually at least. Then do the following.

  1. Get a router which supports the DD-WRT or Tomato firmware.
  2. Install one of them.
  3. Once installed, by yourself, or with the help of someone from tech support, install the VPN of your choice on it.
  4. Once done, connect and manage.

While this may be the cheapest option, the trouble of getting all that done may outweigh the money saved.

We recommend following these steps depending on your level of tech savvy.

Install a VPN on Your TV – Easy

If you have decided to not go for the router option, then you are left with getting it installed on your choice of individual smart devices/operating systems.

So if your smart TV runs on the Android OS, all you need to do is install the VPN app on your smart TV and turn it on whenever you are connected to the internet.

Here is how you do it.

  1. In the apps section of your smart TV, open up the Google Play Store and search for your particular VPN app. There are a variety of options available.
  2. Download and install the VPN of your choice.
  3. Once installed, the app will ask for permissions; grant them.
  4. Turn on the app. After setting up the account and login information, you are good to go.
  5. Choose the server location you want to appear from, and that’s it.

Once you have the VPN app running, you are free to connect to the internet without the fear of being monitored. Time to safely stand in front of the TV and repeat those words “TV, TV on the wall…”

VPN on Windows OS – MacGuyver

If perhaps you are one of the unlucky people who doesn’t have an Android-based smart TV, then don’t panic, yet. You don’t need to swap it with a newer one as long as you have a computer at home running Windows. That and some patience you will need to muster while you are sitting at the computer with a hunched back and lightning fast fingers typing matrix code (J/k, normal speed is fine too).

win10 disk
You don’t need to swap it with a newer one as long as you have a computer at home running Windows.

For this to work, you need to cover it in three stages.

1.    Test for Compatibility

Your computer needs to support a virtual router for this to work. If it doesn’t support it, perhaps you can try updating your device drivers and try again. However, if that doesn’t help, then stop right here.

Run the following commands in the command prompt and see if the following result is available.

  • Command: netsh wlan show drivers
  • Find the mentioned line in the resultant text: Hosted network supported: Yes

If the line isn’t present or the attribute is set to ‘No’ then there is no support for the virtual router.

2.    Prepare

Moving forward, we will now prepare our virtual router and note down important information for later use.

Once again we use the netsh wlan command on the command prompt to turn it on and set its properties. Command: netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=<NetworkID> key=<NetworkPassword>

netsh wlan command in command prompt

Note down the network ID.

Network ID in command prompt screenshot.

Once the name and password are set, we can start the router by running the following command. Command: netsh wlan start hostednetwork

netsh wlan start hostednetwork screenshot

Now that the virtual router is running, we need it to set to be sharable by other devices connected to the network. For that, open the Control Panel and then the Network Connections.

Once here look for a virtual adapter labeled as Microsoft Hosted Network Virtual Adapter having the same <NetworkID> you set while turning on the virtual router.

Note down the name of adapter <Adaptor Name>.

Now staying here, in the Network Connections, select the TAP Adaptor’s properties by right-clicking it.

In the properties, look for Sharing tab and then set the following option as on. Option: Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection

Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection screenshot

Once that is done, select the previously noted <Adapter Name>  in the Home Networking Connection dialog.

After this, you are ready to run and share your virtual router.

3.    Time to Connect Your Smart TV

Once you are running your virtual router, follow the steps below to start using it on your smart TV.

  1. Turn on your VPN service on your computer.
  2. Connect your smart TV with your computer through Wi-Fi or LAN cable.

And that’s it.

VPN on macOS – MacGuyver, Part 2

So you are an Apple consumer, good news, you will have to start setting up right from the time you are installing your preferred VPN.

And one more thing: It needs to support L2TP over IPSec. It is not a big deal, really, most of the quality service providing VPNs support multiple protocols. You just have to select which one best suits your needs.

Office wood table with notepad, laptop mock-up and teapot.
So you are an Apple consumer, good news, you will have to start setting up right from the time you are installing your preferred VPN.

You will also need an Ethernet connection.

You will connect to the internet with an Ethernet connection and with the smart TV through Wi-Fi. 

Let’s get started.

  1. While installing your preferred VPN, choose a manual installation method and then set the preferred protocol to L2TP over IPSec.
  2. Go to the website of your VPN service provider for information about setting up the L2TP over IPSec while installing the app.
  3. Once the installation is done and the VPN is on, go to System Preferences and select Internet Sharing under the Sharing option.
  4. Here select WiFi and then open WiFi options.
  5. Once here, in the Security dropdown button, choose WPA2 Personal.
  6. Once done, finish setting up the network, choosing a name and password of your choice and press Ok.
  7. Go back to the Sharing section and turn on the Internet Sharing option.
  8. Press Start.

And your Mac is ready to roll.

Connect your smart TV to your Mac through Wi-Fi, and when it’s not in use, turn off the Internet Sharing option to stop using your Mac’s network.

That’s all you need to have and setup a VPN on your smart TV. The only thing which isn’t covered is getting a smart TV in the first place and setting up a great VPN.That, dear reader, you should probably do beforehand.

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