If you own a Chromecast and have annoying friends or housemates, you’re probably tired of them interrupting your movie-watching by streaming stupid videos to your device. Rickrolls are funny the first time, not the 26th, and especially not when you’re invested in your favourite show or film.
The Chromecast makes it easy to stream media to a connected television, but this ease of use is also the device’s Achilles’ heel. Anyone connected to the same wireless network as said Chromecast can stream to it, whether you want them to or not.
While Google could easily fix this if it allowed the person who last-casted a piece of content — or even the registered owner of the Chromecast — to approve all streaming requests, it hasn’t offered that functionality. And you probably don’t want to get new housemates — friends, maybe, but not housemates.
In the meantime, you have two primary tricks you can use to keep others from messing with your Chromecast, and they both involve managing the network your little streaming stick or puck is connected to. (This is in addition to disabling Cast media control notifications, which you should do so others aren’t tempted to mess with you when you start streaming.)
Set up a guest network for yourself
If you’re lucky, your router can broadcast a “guest network” for others to use. If so, you can use a guest network in two different ways to secure your Chromecast.
First, give your friends and housemates the password for the guest network, and they won’t be able to access your devices on your wired or wireless network unless you specifically let them via your router’s settings (if you can).
That, or you can slap your Chromecast on your guest network and never share the guest network’s Wi-Fi password. You’ll have to connect to the network to cast media to whatever your Chromecast is physically connected to, which will be a little annoying, but it’ll at least keep your Chromecast isolated from your other Wi-Fi network(s).
While you’re at it, you might as well connect all of your “smart” devices to your guest network, as it’s a good security practice to isolate less-secure devices on your home network.
Use a VLAN to isolate your devices
I slightly touched on this in my guide to setting up a network switch, but you could also get a little crazy with VLANs — Virtual Local Area Networks — assuming your router or managed switch supports the feature.
In a nutshell, VLANs allow you to create isolated networks and set up rules for how data passes between them.
So, for example, if you run your house’s network, you could always slap your housemates’ Ethernet connections on a separate VLAN and use access controls to prevent them from talking to your VLAN.
They’ll be able to access the internet without issue, but they won’t be able to mess with any devices on your VLAN — which includes the Chromecast you’ve either connected to your network via Ethernet or connected via a wireless access point that is, itself, connected to your network.
A VLAN requires a bit more setup and know-how than blocking access to your Chromecast via managing your Wi-Fi, but it might be a great solution, depending on your home’s network configuration.