Antivirus firm Bitdefender unveiled a hardware security appliance for home networks Tuesday that aims to protect devices by scanning network traffic to detect and block potential security threats.
The new Bitdefender BOX is a mix between a router, network firewall and intrusion prevention system. It can sit behind an existing router, connected to one of its Ethernet ports, it can be placed in front of a router, so that it also protects the router from Internet-based attacks, or can act itself as a router.
The device has a single-core 400 MHz MIPS microprocessor, 16 MB Flash memory, 64 MB DDR2 RAM, two 10/100 Ethernet ports and a wireless chipset that supports the 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi standards and is capable of speeds up to 150Mbps.
Despite these unimpressive technical specifications, Bitdefender BOX does not affect the network performance when positioned alongside a router to scan network traffic because it doesn't perform deep packet inspection, according to Bogdan Botezatu, a senior e-threat analyst at Bitdefender.
The device intercepts and scans only essential parts of the data packets that flow in and out of a network to identify known malicious patterns, Botezatu said. This is done with help from Bitdefender's cloud-based threat intelligence network, he said.
When used as a router itself, the device certainly cannot match the network performance and some of the functionality provided by high-end home routers. It does, however, provide a security layer that the vast majority of such devices lack and also has a smaller attack surface than most of them.
BOX costs $199, which includes the price of the hardware and a one-year subscription. Users will then have to pay $99 for every year after that, regardless of the number of devices protected by the appliance. Orders will open in mid-December and shipping will start in January, according to the company.
Network security appliances like intrusion detection and prevention systems are common on corporate networks. Preventing malware infections on end-point systems is increasingly difficult, so blocking malicious traffic at the network level, including attackers' attempts to control infected systems or to extract data from them, has become essential to limiting the impact of such security breaches.
Through BOX, Bitdefender seeks to bring similar protection to home networks, where the ever increasing number of Internet-connected devices has raised new security challenges.
Users have gotten used to installing antivirus products on their laptops and desktop computers, and maybe even on their mobile devices. However, home networks can also include smart TVs, game consoles, media centers, IP cameras, network-attached storage devices, smart thermostats and a variety of other devices that fall into the large Internet-of-Things category. Many of these systems handle data that users would prefer to remain private and some of them even contain Web browsers and various Web-based apps, making them a potential target for attackers.
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