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Ask the Experts: How do I make sure nothing illegal is downloaded by guests at my cottage?

Ask the experts…

Q. I know holidaymakers appreciate broadband facilities, but how do I make sure nothing illegal is downloaded?

A. The Helpful Holidays team say:

Most people appreciate access to gadgets whilst on holiday and not providing broadband facilities can adversely affect your bookings. Unfortunately, no method of restricting web access is guaranteed to prevent illegal or inappropriate use of the internet for someone who is determined and has relevant technical knowledge, but there are steps you can take to minimise the risk.

Whilst most domestic WiFi routers have web filtering functionality built in, they can be tricky to configure. Our recommendation is to use an online web filtering service, such as that provided by OpenDNS. This allows you to block access to inappropriate or potentially illegal sites on all devices accessing your WiFi network by simply making a minor change to settings on your router. The OpenDNS FamilyShield service is free and blocks most inappropriate content for all devices connecting to your broadband, whilst the paid, VIP version offers customisable options and the ability to monitor usage for a small annual fee. The OpenDNS site gives simple instructions on how to set up protection for most router models.

It’s also worth speaking to your Internet Service Provider to see if they already offer a free web filtering or internet protection service. An example is BT Family Protection, which is free for all BT Broadband and Infinity customers.

These measures will, of course, only work effectively if you have good password security on your WiFi router from the outset. This is required for both the router itself (the admin password) and the WiFi security (the password people enter to connect their own devices to the internet). Ensure that you change both router and WiFi passwords from the defaults provided by the manufacturer and ensure they are sufficiently complex to not be easily guessed. Avoid, for example, using the name of the property or address. It’s good practice for all passwords to be at least eight characters and use a mix of lower and upper case characters and numbers. For holiday accommodation, it’s also a good idea to change the WiFi password regularly to prevent use of the facility by anyone other than your guests.