7

Symantec is releasing a new router, the Norton Core, which they describe as "The secure router for your connected home."

I found out about this while reading an article on Engadget, but their description of what the device actually does and how it's better than a normal router isn't particularly great.

What advantages does the Norton Core have over a regular router as far as improving the security of a simple smart home setup?

9

There are several differences between the Norton Core and a normal router.

1. Deep Packet inspection. From TrustedReviews.com:

The Core is a combination of Symantec's pre-existing security knowhow and some new features we’ve not seen before. The router will inspect every packet of data that passes through it for known pieces of malware and other naughties. This is a common feature in business networking products but is seldom found in kit for use in the home.

In short, it's a kind of firewall which is right on the entrypoint to your home, so it filters all traffic going to and from your home. Therefore, even if an individual computer's security is compromised, there is a second line of defence. As @jpmc26 mentioned in the comments below, it is certainly not a fail-proof security wall: malicious hackers can take other routes. However, it helps tighten up the security on your network in case the security on an individual device is compromised temporarily.

2. Frequent updates. According to the Norton Community, updates are run hourly, meaning that security compromises can be rapidly dealt with on a home level.

3. Multiple networking. You will be able to set up more than one network, so that any hacking would have to move through your router to another network, allowing for more detailed screening. Back on the Trusted Reviews page, apparently...

You'll also be able to move your most vulnerable devices, such as smart home kit, onto a completely separate network, making it much harder for a compromised device to open the door to the rest of your home network.

4. Security score. The Norton Core is constantly monitoring all individual devices on the network to feel out any security leaks on individual devices, such as out of date devices. From Norton's Website, which you referenced:

Core monitors data from your entire connected home, identifies security issues, and sums it all up in a single, powerful number. If there’s ever a problem, Core jumps in with real-time insights and tools to get you back on track.

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    Does it MITM in order to achieve (1)? Would make a cool attack surface if so. – Sean Houlihane Jan 4 '17 at 17:43
  • @Sean, I don't find any definitive information, but I would guess it probably does employ MITM, since it appears to be included in their antivirus software and the router is obviously designed to be as secure as possible. – anonymous2 Jan 4 '17 at 19:06
  • 1
    "Therefore, it isn't up to each individual computer to have their own security implementations and updates; the router itself is doing the protection." Pffffffft!! Tone down the marketing, please. We all know that's ludicrous. Seriously, how many viruses have been spread by infected USB drives? As just one example. This router might be great; I don't know. But it certainly isn't a reason to eschew basic security concerns on the connected devices. – jpmc26 Jan 5 '17 at 0:31
  • @jpmc, you're absolutely right. Of course, it's all marketing based. The point of my post is just to discern why they are able to market the product the way they do. However, I will edit to clarify that as soon as I have a chance. – anonymous2 Jan 5 '17 at 3:39
4

I'm pleased to see that this product exists, and hope that other vendors of routers follow suit.

The solution to recent consumer IoT security problems lies in the intelligence of the home network that is wrapped in the router. We will never get cheap-as-possible manufacturers to implement some yet-to-be-defined security protocol. And, as much as we try and educate consumers, people will buy on price, not security (which may be too complex for them to understand).

It's easy to solve the problem at the network level. Less trustworthy devices can be put on a separate network, where leaking of wifi passwords causes less of a problem, devices can be firewalled, and traffic can be monitored. Although this could, in theory, be done with existing routers, it requires a level of networking skill, and interest/desire to maintain the network, that does not exist with most consumers.

The solution is better UIs so that consumers can interact with routers in a way that hides complexity, and more 'intelligence', possibly packaged as 'home networking as a service'. The Norton Core seems to be doing (at least) these two things, and as a result goes a long way to improving home network security, which in turn reduces the risk of rogue IoT devices.

So while people with networking skills and interests may find better products to solve their problems, for the average consumer, the Norton Core seems to be a move in the right direction.

| improve this answer | |
0

It doesn't have an open telnet port. I still come across lots of residential / off-the-shelf wifi routers with open telnet ports. The firmware is usually available online too, with backdoor accounts. If you are renting your wifi router from your ISP provider, it probably has an open telnet port. Wifi routers usually have weak security and their firmwares are available online too, which can easily be examined with binwalk. If you have a Netgear router, have fun googling "netgear geardog"

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.