Bitdefender Box protects your Smart House

Do you worry about hackers gaining access to your Smart House? Truth is the more connected our technology becomes, the more data our devices and appliances can gather about us. That data can be shared in ways we don’t anticipate or can be revealed as part of larger breaches.

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.

Bitdefender Box | KitchAnn Style

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 Box | KitchAnn Style

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.

Forget the Keys

Forget fumbling with keys. And, unlike locks with RF chips that make you swipe or tap for entry, this lock from August works with Bluetooth LE to detect your presence.

August, the brainchild of Yves Behar, whose work with famed partners Herman-Miller, Soda Stream and Jawbone to name a few; and Jason Johnson, a Silicon Valley technologist and entrepreneur; consists of an attractive smart lock device that installs on the interior side of existing deadbolts paired with a mobile app that allows authorized users to access  the property.

August Smart Lock |KitchAnn Syle

If your phone is typically dead at the end of a day, you’ll be glad to know that the existing deadbolt can still be unlocked with a physical key, and the lock can still be opened and closed by hand from the inside.

The August runs of 4 AA batteries so it continues to work even when the power goes out.

August Smart Lock |Kitchen Studio of Naples

 

The lock comes with both a mobile app and a web app, so it can be used with all Bluetooth-LE-enabled iOS and Android smartphones. You can grant keyless access to friends, family and visitors by inviting them through the app.

You can grant keyless access to friends, family and visitors by inviting them through the accompanying app. You can also customize which days a person has access to your home, even during which hours, and revoke access whenever needed.

You can further customize what days a person has access to your home, even during what hours, and revoke access whenever needed. The app also logs the time and date each user enters and exits through the door. This level of detail is handy especially when it comes to managing hired workers like dog-walkers, cleaning companies or service technicians. You are able to see whether they showed up on time, and how long they actually stayed in your house.

August Smart Lock |KitchAnn Syle

 

If you are worried about the security of the lock or if you lose your phone, the August team has set up a way to lock the app and wipe all virtual keys. The lock is also encrypted, making it more difficult to hack. According to Johnson, the locks do not associate with specific addresses, so it is nearly impossible to associate a digital key with a specific door, should somebody else gain access to your phone.

August Smart Lock |KitchAnn Syle

As for the social aspect, the August app also includes a Guestbook function, which lets people leave comments and photos for their guests or hosts. This could be especially useful if you’ve listed a room or apartment on Airbnb. As soon as somebody enters your home, the app can send them a welcome greeting with some tips on the house and neighborhood. Guests can also leave  “Thank You” notes through the app.

Currently, the August is available for pre-order for $199. It was originally slated to ship in early 2014 but no updates have been given. It looks as though orders are strong as new orders today are scheduled for the second production run.