In this age of smart plugs, camera doorbells, and smart assistants, you have devices on your home network tunneling out to the rest of the internet all the time. And if they can get out, other stuff can get in. And while we all know how to keep our laptops firewalled from intrusion, how much do we really think about monitoring why our TVs are sending out MBs of data?
This is why I was interested when the folks at Firewalla offered to send me one of their Blue network security devices. The Blue is a very small (smaller than an Apple TV) box that you connect to your primary router, and instantly adds a firewall, parental controls, ad blocking, a VPN server, and more to your network, all controlled via an app on your phone.
The idea is that the Firewalla Blue is a nearly plug-and-play means to securing your home network, and ensuring no one is hacking into your smart devices, while giving you other powerful tools to help you monitor and maintain your technological infrastructure. And it pretty much is plug-and-play.
You just pull the Firewalla Blue out of the box, connect it to one of the ethernet ports on the back of your primary router, and add power (it will plug into a wall socket, or will take power via USB, which many routers have built in). Then you let it boot up, and use the QR code on the box to register it with the app on your phone. Done. It was, seriously, that easy.
From there, Firewalla Blue will scan your network and verify every device you have connected. You may well discover devices you forgot about! Then you’ll start getting alerts every time something interesting happens on your network, like your TV uploads data for some reason, or someone starts watching video. At this point, you will start to get an idea as to how much is going on with your network, and you’ll figure out how to set the alerts so you’re not being overwhelmed by them.
And one more feature that I really, really like is the built-in VPN server, allowing you to securely tunnel back into your home network from anywhere, keeping what you do on your phone or your laptop when you’re logged onto any old public network completely secure from prying eyes.
There’s plenty more that I’m not getting to, but which only ads value to this remarkable device, but the best thing I can say is that I now feel a lot safer about the security of my home network, and that I have a lot more control over what’s going on with it. That’s a valuable feeling.
The Firewalla Blue is available for $179 at Firewalla.com.