The current big topic, referred to as IoT or Internet of Things, is for all your household goods, whether fridges, kettles, lights and even air purifiers, are all interconnected and remotely accessible via the Internet and a mobile device. But who is in control? Hopefully it is you but are you sure? The Internet is, after all, vast and available to anybody who wishes to use it as a means of entering and controlling the digital aware devices that might be situated there via your router for their own purposes.
While, for a number of years, the use of anti-virus software, and a good dollop of common sense, has been sufficient to withstand the threat of outside attacks threatening contamination, the emergence of smart home devices might call for a rethink with regards to protecting your property. Not surprisingly the impetus for this rethink is coming from companies already well versed in the field of anti-virus protection as products are appearing that offer protection across a range of devices. One such product is Sense from F-Secure, a company well-known for its anti-virus software.
With this Sense product, F-Secure has developed a combination of hardware and software elements. Presenting the visual aspect of the product is the Sense router. This diamond shaped tower router is decked out in a reflective computer grey plastic casing. The router has a height of 218mm and contains four antennas, 1.0GHz Dual Core processor, 512MB of RAM and 1GB of Flash memory delivering 2.4GHz and 5GHz bandwidths. Situated at the rear of the Sense router are three Ethernet ports, a WAN port, USB 3.0 port and a power socket. Once powered up, the front face of the router will display feed-back information including the current time and a pairing code required by the initial set up process. An Ethernet lead and power cable, with a changeable two or three pin plugs, are included. Software providing F-Secure antivirus protection for Windows and Android devices completes the package
You will need to connect this security-based router to your existing modem router either via WiFi or an Ethernet cable. The actual setting up of the Sense router requires the F-Secure app which can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play depending upon the smartphone platform being used. The app will lead you through the set-up process once you have paired your mobile device to the Sense router through the use of Bluetooth and the entry of a four figure numeric code which appears on the router. This bonding is of a permanent type so, if at a later date, you decide to change your mobile phone you will need to rerun this process to set up a new bonding link.
The Sense router can be linked to the current existing router modem set up with a new network name and password being automatically provided. You may want to change both these pieces of information to the network name and password being used by the current router modem which is acting as the host device.
Making any adjustments to the F-Secure Sense environment is carried out using the downloaded app which divides its functionality into three areas. The initial Status view reports back on the current network name and whether a connection is established plus the number of devices currently being protected by Sense and the number of threats blocked. With the devices and threats data, you can drill down to gain more information about the particular aspect.
A Devices section lists all the various units that are currently under the protection of Sense. Again you can drill down to reveal data relating to a particular device such as whether to block Internet access for this particular unit and its IP and MAC addresses. For access to more wide ranging features, there is a separate Settings facility found under the More section. You can adjust various settings that have been categorised as Protection, Hardware or Network.
With its emphasis on device protection, the F-Secure Sense has not totally ignored other features. You get the benefit of 2.4GHz and 5GHz bandwidths but neither bandwidth will top the list if speed is of a prime importance to you. Also, currently, there does not appear to be any support for the Mac range of devices. Updates do seem to be appearing regularly so maybe there is some hope. Within the first 24 hours of setting up the Sense, I received notification of two updates that required downloading.
The Sense is priced at £169 which includes the first year’s licence for the product. Subsequent subscription rates have been set at £102 annually or £8.50 monthly. This does mean there is no price advantage for taking out a year’s subscription.
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