Security firm BitDefender has announced a new type of home Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) device designed to make up for the inadequacies complement the capabilities of security software built into broadband routers.
Called 'Box' and due for launch in the US in January (no news on a UK or European launch so far), the device is being pitched as a defence against everything from Internet of Things (IoT) attacks to today's botnets, phishing, data theft and everyday malware, all security layers normally sold only to businesses.
Physically, Box contains the same platform as any contemporary router, including a single-core 400MHz MIPS processor, 64MB or RAM, 16GB of onboard Flash storage and a pair of Ethernet ports. It also has 802.11nWi-Fi support and can stream up to 150Mbps, relatively modest but then again it doesn't have to be used in place of the customer's current Wi-Fi router.
This is fundamentally about security connected to BitDefender's own cloud services. It is less a case of what it can do than what it can't do - BitDefender's note on the device mentioned almost every security possibility imaginable.
It will block malicious URLs and other malware including downloads, and it reportedly will coordinate its security with applications running on the protected devices be they PCs, Macs or Android devices.
More interestingly, this layer means that it can be used to set up a VPN connection when users travel away from home, protecting them against man-in-the-middle attacks.
It will also handle things like vulnerability alerting and OS updates and even anti-theft.
"The hardware sits next to, or in place of your router and protects all devices that have an IP address (think Nest, tablets, smart TV, etc.) - yes, it will even protect your webcam from Russian hackers," read the PR pitch.
So Bit Defender's Box is going to have its work cut out for it but to stand all this up the user has to buy a $99 annual subscription (after year one) in addition to the $199 asking price.
All of this will be monitored through a smartphone app - of course.
BitDefender's problem is that users might not grasp the buying proposition - having bought an expensive router with built-in security is this really adding anything to that setup to justify its $200 asking price?
If you're defending a PC, probably not. Good patching, careful behaviour and some basic antivirus will do the same job for a lot less. Home routers are an area of vulnerability but anti-virus programmes are acquiring the capability to interrogate what's going on at that level so a separate device is unnecessary.
The argument in favour of a new kind of security device that sits beside a home router is probably that users are adding more and more devices and services to their networks, including over time multiple IoT devices. Defending those will doubtless be more complicated than people realise.
BitDefender has posted a rather uninformative video showcasing the device's appearance.
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