In a home environment that will have both traditional computing activities (desktop and laptop computers, NAT storage devices, printers, etc.) and IoT devices (internet connected thermometers, refrigerators, toasters, etc.) Is it

  1. possible in a pragmatic sense of not reducing functionality,
  2. significantly advantageous from a security standpoint,

...to run two separate physical networks and isolate the traffic from embedded internet connected devices from other computers? Would this mitigate security risks to computers posed by dubious quality or un-patched firmware? Would this offer any significant disadvantages as far as the functionality of IoT devices? Which network would consumer WiFi devices such as phones need to be connected to?

  • 4
    Though, for what it's worth, I think this question was formulated far better.
    – Aurora0001
    Commented Dec 6, 2016 at 18:42
  • 1
    @Aurora0001 Same topic yes, but I would argue the other one is (at least in the long run) too broad given "what is the best approach" with no real qualifications for what's going to be on the network(s) or what the use case is.
    – Caleb
    Commented Dec 6, 2016 at 18:43
  • 4
    I agree totally that it's a little broad - perhaps this would be a better canonical question in the long run since it's more clearly specified and easier to understand what you're asking about.
    – Aurora0001
    Commented Dec 6, 2016 at 18:45
  • Keep in mind that we should "keep the question with the best collection of answers". In other words, the better question should be kept and the other marked the dupe Commented Dec 6, 2016 at 19:58
  • @Zach We're a few hours into private beta. Setting the best pattern for question scope is more important than how many answers have turned up so far. We can expect some shake out while we sort out what this site will look like. Answers can be adjusted and reposted on other questions if need be.
    – Caleb
    Commented Dec 6, 2016 at 20:17

1 Answer 1


In answer to the first question - yes, it is possible in a pragmatic sense, and running a separate network will not appreciably impede functionality, assuming the separate network is given sufficient access to the Internet to allow basic connectivity from the device(s) in question to its / their respective "home base" services.

In answer to the second question - while it is advantageous from a security perspective, I would not deem it to be "significantly" advantageous. Many of the current exploits around IoT devices involve vulnerabilities on the service side, not necessarily on the device itself. Separating the networks between "regular computing" and "IoT" in your home will help mitigate risks to your home computing infrastructure, but will not reduce risks to the devices themselves, or to the Internet in general from devices that have been taken over via vulnerabilities in the services they connect to.

To put it differently - if a bad actor takes over the Nest server network, that actor will be able to access your Nest thermostat whether it is on a separate IoT-only network at your home or on a common network with other compute devices. The separate network will only help protect your home computers in that scenario, it won't help protect anything else.

As to the follow-up question about consumer devices such as phones - that decision will have to be made on a case-by-case basis for your personal use cases, but I would wager to say that most of those devices would end up on the regular compute network, especially if you will be syncing data to/from your mobile device and your computer directly (as opposed to using a cloud-based sync like Google Play or Dropbox).

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