In a speech at International CES, Edith Ramirez, chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission, said the trend toward having so many things constantly connected to the Internet presented serious risks that start-ups and big companies needed to take seriously.
Because connected devices are relatively new, there are few security features built into many of them or the apps and services that power them. Even fewer products exist to lock down your smart home.
That’s why I was happy to discover a new product from Bitdefender, which makes antivirus and anti-malware software for computers.
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.
With the help of Bitdefender’s cloud-based threat intelligence network Bitdefender Box constantly scans your network and the websites you visit for potentially harmful software or viruses.
“The whole idea is not to let it inside your network,” said Bogdan Dumitru, the company’s senior threat analyst.
One common security problem, for example, is that a person visits a website that has malicious code embedded in it. You don’t have to click anything for the code to run, and after it does it can deliver a virus that can co-opt your computer and put it to work as part of a botnet. A botnet is a giant network of computers linked together to break codes or passwords or initiate distributed denial-of-service attacks that can take down entire sites.
“When you’re opening a malicious page, before the page is downloaded, it is intercepted in the box, flags are sensed in the cloud and it doesn’t show up in the first place,” said Dumitru.
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.
Bitdefender plans to start shipping Bitdefender BOX this month. The $199 MSRP includes the hardware and a one-year subscription for the service. After that, expect to pay $99 per year to protect an unlimited number of connected devices.
As with most antivirus and anti-malware products, the box can scan for and detect only code that has already been identified as a threat. Something new could still sneak through.