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Startup Builds Secure Router For IoT-Laden Home WiFi

Network traffic inspection and vulnerability scanning of all networked devices in the house, home office.

A startup co-founded by two renowned security experts and entrepreneurs has developed a home router that monitors network traffic from each device and scans them for security vulnerabilities.  

Paul Judge and Mike Van Bruinesse, today launched Luma, which offers this next-generation home WiFi router of the same name. Aside from the security features, Luma also provides granular parental controls and extends WiFi coverage in the home, akin to a sophisticated repeater.

The home office, increasingly surrounded by Internet of Things devices that were not built with security in mind, traditionally has relied on desktop antivirus and corporate VPN connections. Concerns over malware being delivered to the network, and ultimately to a home worker's device, via a smart thermostat or the online gaming system, has made the home WiFi network risky. IoT devices are notorious for lacking security altogether, or coming with weak security features such as hardcoded or default passwords that can easily be accessed and used by remote attackers.  Home-market routers, too, are notoriously weak when it comes to security, many with vulnerabilities that are exposed by researchers and then not actually patched.

"We look at outbound traffic and do vulnerability scanning of all devices on the network: is the connected fridge talking to your cameras? The [networked] doorknob to your new light bulbs?" Judge says. "Nothing in the house [has been] looking to see if those devices are secure or vulnerable or communicating with each other or are connected. This IDS [intrusion detection system] and vulnerability scan lets you understand what's going on" in the home network, he says.

Judge says the Luma approach is the reverse of the old-school telecommuting perspective. "The traditional enterprise view is that [users] get viruses and bring them from home into the office" network, he says. "This is one of the first times we can take a deep view at what's happening in the home network and try to do something about it."

The Luma device sees DNS and HTTP web traffic coming and going. "It's looking for signs of infection, communications with a command-and-control [server], a malicious host," Judge says. And the vulnerability scanner detects things like default passwords in the camera, or a video game with ports wide open to the Internet, for example.

Luma, which Judge describes as a next-generation home router that filters content and provides security, costs $199 and $499 for a pack of three.

Judge and Van Bruinesse previously founded CipherTrust, which was acquired by Secure Computing (later purchased by McAfee), and PureWire, which was acquired by Barracuda Networks in 2009.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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