Secure your smart home with BullGuard

Image courtesy of BullGuard

Image courtesy of BullGuard

Smart home security is a significant concern for any who choose to install connected devices. There is still limited information available to consumers about the security chops of manufacturers of these devices, and they are often a black box. The last thing we really want is to find out about their lack of secure design by reading about an exploit in the news. Unfortunately, that is often the first sign we have that things are not as they should be.

There are precautions we can take to secure out networks, and segregate connected devices in many cases, but not always. Increasingly, smart home platforms and device integrations require devices to be on the same network as our smartphones in order to deliver their full capabilities. While it may not be a concern that our connected coffee machine can be hacked, the issue is that any compromised device presents an open door to the attacker into the rest of our network.

Security focused routers are beginning to appear on the market to address some of these issues at the network boundary, but what about inside the network. How do we know if our Wifi is under control. What about those ZigBee devices? Are they sending attack traffic onto our network through their bridge? 

BullGuard may have the answer to these questions with a new product called Dojo. For those not familiar, BullGuard is a UK-based cyber security company that has been offering Anti-virus, internet filtering, firewall and similar security products to home and business users since 2002. BullGuard acquired Israeli based startup Dojo-Labs last year, and subsequently pushed to get this product to market.

The new Dojo device is essentially a Network Intrusion Detection system tailored for home Wifi networks. It does seem to have a Wifi focus, but from a connected devices perspective this is by far the most common connection medium. The solution consists of a dock, which connects with your router and/or Wifi access point, a puck shaped device which provides a tasteful status indicator that can be placed anywhere around the home, a smartphone app used to manage the system, and a subscription service. The latter is unclear as to whether it provides any functionality, or is just a means to charge a subscription. One assumes it provides malware signature updates and such. 

The meat of the system is in the dock, as that is where the traffic analysis occurs. This has to be configured in one of two ways depending on whether you have a separate access point, or you just use the integrated ISP Wifi/Modem/Router as many do. The puck has glowing rings that indicate network health. Green for good, Yellow for warnings, and Red for immediate action required. Any required actions can be reviewed in the app, which uses a novel chat like notification system to communicate with you.

With other options appearing in the market to address network security in the home, the Dojo is on the pricey end. There is also a requirement for a US$99/year subscription, which could be a bit much for some. For that price though, Dojo claims that it offers 5 levels of protection, from firewalling up to intelligent traffic analysis. The system is supposed to learn what devices you have, and through machine learning and pattern analysis how they communicate, so that it can identify abnormal behavior that might indicate an attack coming from a compromised device.

It will be interesting to see what other offerings deliver in this space. If you want the peace of mind such active monitoring can provide, and you can actually get the device (it's only available in the US at launch), then this looks like a premium option to try. If you take precautions and lock down your devices, then it might be worth waiting to see what the competition comes up with for the money.